SONA Scoop Best Integrated Home at CEDIA Awards 2021

November 17, 2021

On Thursday 11th November the SONA team dusted off their tuxes and LBDs and headed to London for the annual CEDIA Awards 2021.

CEDIA Awards Night 2021 Rundown

The 2021 CEDIA Awards 2021 were held at Illuminate at The Science Museum in London; where SONA reunited after 2 years with friendly faces of fellow installers, CEDIA members, industry experts and dealers for a night of celebrations.

The 2020 awards were virtual last year, so we celebrated from the office in our trainers! SONA had an amazing haul from the 2020 awards, sweeping the board with no less than 6 awards, including Integrated Global Winner, Best Integrated Home Level III, Life Lived Best at Home, Best Lighting EMEA, Best Documentation and Best Dressed Rack.  The same project was also a finalist in the Technology Meets Design category

So this year, dare we dream we could win again?!

We entered a beautiful project from Cheshire, for Best Integrated Home Level I (details of the project are below).

How it Went…

A bubbling drinks reception on arrival was followed by a delicious 3 course dinner overlooking the stunning London skyline and waterfront, whilst we all sat nervously awaiting the CEDIA awards 2021 to begin. By 10pm it was time for the main event… the awards ceremony. As we patiently waited for our category cheering for those winning theirs, we had a shock receiving 2 highly commended titles for Best Documentation and Best Dressed Rack, showing our attention to detail  in every element of our design and install.

And then the announcement we’d been waiting for…

‘The winner of the 2021 Best Integrated Home Level 1  is… SONA!’

The team headed to the stage, our SONA ladies paying close attention not to trip in their heels!  It was a proud moment for our team – Simon (Founder), Nicola (MD), Ali (Head of Installations), Andy (Design Manager), Dan (Engineer), Mike (Site Manager), Naralie (Projects Assistant), Rachel (Accounts), Sophie (Social Media).

The excitement never faded as we headed downstairs to the after party where the celebrations continued and the drinks flowing; as the only company in the North of England to take home an award that night.

SONA were up against some truly amazing projects this year in the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) which makes it all the more nerve racking, but rewarding.  This year’s fellow finalists included Finite Solutions (London),  Future Automation Solutions (India) and Homeplay (Surrey) – all worthy contenders and impressive projects.

So, what was the project we won the award for, and how did we end up working on it….?

The CEDIA Award Winning Home

The Challenge

We were introduced to this client through a builder we were working with on another project.  The client had a system that whilst on paper met their requirements, was a constant source of frustration for the family.  The system was unreliable and cumbersome to use, so the family felt stressed by it on a daily basis.  When technology is designed well, it is seamless and enhances life at home. When it’s designed or installed badly, it creates additional stress. This is something we often come across, sadly.

The system was being supported by a number of companies, none of which had overall management of the system (and therefore little accountability if something went wrong!)  There were different companies responsible for the network, network management, security and CCTV, audio video system and telephony.  So when there was a problem, it was a job to try and even figure out who was responsible to come out and take a look at it!  Let alone fix it.

The System

A data network originally installed to support the CCTV system had become responsible for providing connectivity across the site with all devices on a single subnet with no segregation or security protocols in place.

No documentation of the system was in place, with equipment spread across multiple buildings and no-one actually knew what equipment was present on site and how everything was connected together as an overview.  Whilst clients may not consider this to be important when designing the technology in a home, and selecting a company to work with, documentation is a huge way to empower yourself as a client.  You then have records of your home should you ever need to get anyone else involved.  We pride ourselves at SONA on providing all clients with a handover pack at the end of each project, containing all documentation they should ever need, if for any reason, they wanted to use another company.  So far, that hasn’t happened!

The Brief

The brief was simple – update and refresh the system where possible, ensuring it met the clients immediate needs, and gain a full and complete understanding of the cabling and systems in place with a view to documenting the entire installation and providing ongoing support moving forward.  Essentially we were retained by the client to get a grip on the system and renew their confidence in it.

An unusual project for us to enter the CEDIA awards 2021 with, but one we felt demonstrated how we were not only able to design and install brand new award winning systems in new properties, but also assist clients who had been disappointed by a previous experience in an existing house.

As this was an existing, decorated and completed property, there was no opportunity to run new cabling, and the client wanted to retain each rooms aesthetic.  The challenge was therefore to completely update the underlying systems and equipment to provide the day to day functionality required, with reliable and intuitive operation.

The SONA Process

We achieved this by taking control of the fundamental infrastructure – providing a fully managed, high performance network to support all devices, and then systemically looking at the audio video elements of the existing system, and developing a solution where we essentially left all in room equipment that was on show in place, but upgrading televisions to equivalent sized up-to-date models, upgrading local surround receivers to the latest technology, using a de-centralised video approach, and replacing the dated audio system.

This entire process was made particularly challenging as plans to carry out the works whilst the family were away were ultimately not possible due to lockdown restrictions.  The whole installation, from start to finish was therefore carried out with the family living in the home, with the client extremely busy on video calls every day and for most of the day, and mock examinations being taken by the client’s children requiring internet connections.

The SONA Team are used to working with conditions such as this, so took it in their stride, always keeping the client up to date, and liaising with them regularly to set and manage expectations to minimise disruption and frustration.  The result is now a fully integrated home that meets the client brief, but also has accounted for the family that live there.  Their likes and dislikes, sensory preferences, daily routines and rhythm of their week.  The client now feels the enhanced luxury that a SONA system brings to the home, and feels reassured that the system is being remotely monitored 24-7.  The confidence that is given knowing that you call one reliable and supportive company, should you ever have a problem, who can offer practical support is now an added benefit, that the client perhaps hadn’t appreciated they were missing before.

SONA are the ONLY company in the North West to achieve the accolade of CEDIA Member of Excellence so far.
In total there are only 15 companies to achieve this title throughout the entire globe.

What is CEDIA and Why Should You Care?

CEDIA are the international trade association for for over 3,700 member companies that design, manufacture and install technology into homes worldwide. They also work to provide their members with cutting-edge education, certifications and standards ensuring the highest levels of professionalism in the industry.

The CEDIA awards are blindly judged by a panel of experts.  Everything that is submitted has to be logo-less so that there is no bias.  These awards are impartially judged on the standards of work, which is why we are so proud to have been finalists and winners every time we have entered.  It hopefully demonstrates our consistency in the projects we deliver across the board.

SONA are proud to not only be a CEDIA member, but one of a handful on the CEDIA Member of Excellence list.  This coveted title is given to CEDIA Members with a record of award-winning craftsmanship, recommendations directly from clients, and a dedication to advanced industry certifications.

SONA are the ONLY company in the North West to achieve this accolade of CEDIA Member of Excellence so far.

The CEDIA page about being a Member of Excellence, currently features one of our Cheshire Projects, which makes us feel really proud.

SONA's Award Winning History

Winning our first of many CEDIA awards in 2014 for Best Dressed Rack when Simon ran company as an individual, we have continued to be successful over the years with a total of 11 wins, 8 finalist nominations and highly commended 3 times.

Last year were were honoured with the title of Global Winner Best Integrated Home 2020.  It is what is says on the tin – considered by independent industry experts to be the Best Integrated Home in the World out of the thousands of home automation companies all over the globe.

The 2020 awards hold a special place not only for the global winner award, but team SONA swept the floor with a total of SIX wins in one night, for one project, demonstrating that we aim for excellence in EVERYTHING we do.

Want to speak with us about your home renovation, upgrade or perhaps your currently in the process of designing or building your dream home?

Get in touch today on 01625 541442 or email to start the conversation; or check out our Instagram and Pinterest @thinksona for more inspiration!