CLARK SCOTT – PRESIDENT, ALGER-TRITON

Since 2005, Clark Scott has been President of Alger-Triton, a global leader in the luxury lighting market. With over 31 years of experience dedicated exclusively to the design and manufacture of custom lighting, he believes his strengths lie not only in conceptual design and illumination techniques, but also in developing those designs into a manufacturing reality.

Clark shares with us the story of Alger-Triton’s rise from a single casino project in Las Vegas over 30 years ago, to its status as an international specialist in high-end hospitality and residential lighting projects. From the hotel lobby to the casino floor, the company boasts an impressive portfolio of clients including Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and Four Seasons to name but a few.

Although highly motivated and devoted to his work, Clark also embraces the lighter side of life. He describes his love of music to us (and the problems it can cause with speeding tickets), admits to being handy with a hammer and nails (we explain his nickname ‘MacGyver’ later on), and reveals that he has done impersonations to entertain his friends since childhood. He also muses on the subject of Antarctica: to go or not to go…

But first, one important decision he has made is for Alger-Triton to sponsor the Hotels category in this year’s World Interiors News Awards…

We’re delighted to have Alger-Triton onboard as sponsors this year. What made you want to get involved?

We knew the calibre of the jury members, and the variety of project types included in the WIN Awards was compelling, so it was something we wanted to support.

What would you say is Alger-Triton’s core philosophy, and why have you specialised in hotels and casinos?

‘Exceptional Service Driven by Design’ is our mantra, as design creativity and service are what set you apart from others. Our heritage in hospitality lighting emanated from our first large project commission in Las Vegas when we were first getting into the business over 30 years ago. Gaming has been very instrumental in our success, as those projects often involved more exotic materials and challenging designs - pushing us to be more creative and more resourceful in design, finishes and the sourcing of materials globally.

We were then able to bring that same creativity into the hotel market where we have been equally rewarded in participating with the top designers on some of the most notable properties across the globe. For example, the Beverly Hills Hotel for Adam Tihany, and the Hotel Bel Air for Alexandra Champalimaud were two extraordinary projects.

Can you please explain a little about how Alger-Triton and its other brands, Wired Custom Lighting and Cascade Luce differ?

Alger-Triton is the parent company specialising in commercial-scale hospitality projects, whereas Wired Custom Lighting caters to the high-end residential market.

Wired offers not only a highly aesthetic line of standard products but also provides custom capabilities to the residential market, where often clients have requirements beyond what most residential companies can deliver. This line has been a very positive influence in the market, yielding significant growth in recent years.

Cascade Luce is an Italian glass line focused on providing high style at affordable pricing. It is offered on a direct factory basis where typical retail mark-ups are avoided, delivering good value to the buyer.

Spurred on by the success of your flagship store in Los Angeles, Wired showrooms in Miami, New York, and most recently London, quickly followed. Are there plans to continue this roll-out to other countries or market sectors?

Absolutely. We are actively seeking additional locations in the Middle East, Russia and Asia. The custom capability offered through Wired opened up additional markets in aircraft, motor-yachts, restaurants, and retail - where we have provided feature chandeliers in stores such as Jimmy Choo and other upscale fashion retailers.

Of all the custom lighting products Alger-Triton has designed and produced, do you have a stand-out favourite?

Having collaborated with some of the most notable designers and architects in the world over the years on projects ranging from historical replications and refurbishments, to exotic contemporary glass sculptures, there have simply been too many in such a broad range to single out just one.

Also, as technology evolves, the future is certain to be highlighted with new capabilities that allow us to produce pieces going forward that we simply could not have fabricated in the past. It’s very exciting to think what we may be able to build in the years ahead.

Having been in lighting design for over 30 years, you must have seen tastes change. Can you describe one or two of the major shifts, and where do you think trends are heading next?

Clearly LED’s have had a significant impact in recent years, redefining how we illuminate materials and spaces. This technology is improving and evolving so rapidly that we are seeing many new illumination possibilities arise that were challenging with prior lightsources.

On the material front, glass sculptures have been quite popular the past few years. We have also produced a large number of natural quartz pieces recently and developed a wide array of standard models in our Wired line utilising this material.

One of the beautiful elements about lighting is that the material options are endless, and as we travel throughout the world, we are always seeking new and different materials that can be enhanced with light.

We understand you come from a family of interior designers and lighting consultants. Can you give us a brief run down of who does what, and who was the first to enter the profession?

Our mother was a residential designer, and that likely rubbed off on the rest of us. My brother landed in the lighting business about the time I graduated from college and then I followed into it a few years later. My brother’s wife is a notable hospitality designer, and my late partner of 30 years was a former fashion model who ventured into interior design a few years before we met as well.

How much of an influence has this been? Did you ever have moments when you wanted to swim against the tide and take a different career path?

It’s clearly been a significant influence with so many around you in the same industry. I have often thought about other careers, but frankly I am very content in this business and find that the people in it are the best part. It is a great group of very talented people who work tirelessly and yet are equally sociable and entertaining. It’s truly a great industry.

Can you share a couple of examples of those other careers you’ve sometimes considered?

Real estate and stock trading were a couple that I had thought about over the years. And a few of my friends said I should have gotten into acting! I have always done impersonations since I was a kid; however, doing impersonations when socialising with friends is far different than acting in front of a camera. Thankfully I came back to reality and remained in lighting!

And what do you all talk about when you get together for family occasions?

I’d like to think we are pretty typical when we get together, but certainly all being in the same business arena, we do share war stories that we have been sworn to secrecy to protect. I wouldn’t want to be banned from Christmas dinner by divulging even a word here!

A descendant of Scotland’s Scott clan, you were born in Minneapolis in America’s Midwest, but now live in sunny California. It must feel very different being in Los Angeles; what do you like best about life there?

While I was born in Minneapolis, we moved to some smaller towns when I was a kid so life was pretty calm in the early years. But being a rather curious one, moving to California was a welcome adventure for me. There are so many things to do in Southern California within a two-hour drive, whether skiing in the local mountains, playing golf in Palm Springs or hanging out at the beach when you find a free moment.

The weather here is as good as can be imagined, but there is also an unbelievably creative culture - whether in entertainment, fashion, design or even aerospace. It’s very inspiring in what most people would consider a laid back way of life, but there is a very strong motivation that lies beneath what most people see on the surface.

How old were you when you moved to California?

I moved to California just after turning 25. Ah, to be 25 again! There were no mobile phones. Computers were prehistoric. Fax machines non-existent. Federal Express was just starting to become known, and my golf game was spot on! You could actually escape for a few hours back then and no one would notice.

Where did you study design, and what was the most important lesson you learned?

Actually, I was a business major and never formally studied design. As I became more focused in the business, a natural appreciation for design surfaced and the creativity inside began to blossom.

As for lessons learned, there are too many to count. I think the key ingredients are to learn your business so you can add value to the team, be honest, respectful of others, listen, challenge yourself, be comfortable in your skin, and don’t be afraid to make a mistake.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, your friends nicknamed you ‘MacGyver’ after the lead character in the US television series of the same name, who liked to solve complex problems by making things out of ordinary objects. You obviously shared that same avid ‘DIY’ attitude, and we wondered how this has translated into your professional life?

Sometimes the best solution may be a very simple one that we tend to overlook because it is too obvious. The MacGyver label was the result of taking parts and materials that already existed and using them in a different way to overcome a problem.

While I think it involves thinking outside of the box, it doesn’t mean you have to overlook things that exist, but rather think of how else you can use them beyond their intended use - and try not to blow up too many things along the way!

You still find wood and metalworking therapeutic. What makes it so for you, and do you have your own workshop at home?

The nice thing about hobbies is that you don’t usually put deadlines on them like we face in our daily business life. To design a wood or metal object, or take on a project that can be completed when time permits, allows you to enjoy the mental escape and watch it take shape and form as you work on it. I would love to set up a workshop but, sadly, the time and space are not available at the moment.

Staying with high school and college days, you were a drummer in a rock & roll band. Does music still feature in your life, and can it sometimes help inspire your work?

Music is extremely uplifting and having played in a band I have an appreciation of many types of music. I don’t tend to listen to it at the office, but get me in the car or at home and it is very inspiring. Unfortunately the quantity of speeding tickets increases exponentially with the right tunes playing in the car!

We hear your ‘bucket list’ is to visit every continent on the planet (and that visiting Antarctica will be a great excuse for a new winter wardrobe!). How are you progressing with that so far?

Africa and Antarctica remain untraveled thus far, but Africa seems to have more and more projects developing so that will likely get crossed off the list. As for Antarctica, I haven’t heard of a good pub there so it might be the one that doesn’t get crossed off the list.

Actually, Clark, there are a number of pubs in Antarctica…

I may have to go then!

Apparently you’ve travelled to Hong Kong more times than any other city in the world. What is it that takes you there so often?

Hong Kong is almost like a second home. We have been doing business there ever since I joined Alger-Triton 10 years ago. We have an office in Dongguan, China as well so it has been a great spending time in Hong Kong even when just passing through on my way to other destinations. It has an energy level to it that I don’t find in many other Asian cities and it is truly an international city in every sense of the word. And I do thank the Brits for establishing a few pubs there!

And lastly…you have a whole weekend free to do with as you wish. How would you spend the time?

The last thing I want to do is get on another airplane, so I do tend to relax when I’m at home. I am lucky to have found a place very close to the beach and I feel like I’m on vacation the moment I open the door. Other than that, I enjoy meeting friends for dinner and occasionally playing a little golf, albeit, not nearly as much as I would like.

Gail Taylor