In Review: SAS International’s SAS330 & SAS330i

It was high time we looked up for inspiration. This review is about premium ceilings and the integrated lighting option by internationally renowned, SAS International. We invited Gail Thomson, Creative Director & Founder of Purpose ID, and Vijay Nambiar, Senior Interior Designer at SAY Studio, to tell us their thoughts on this incredibly technical yet aesthetically profound product.


When it comes to commercial interior design projects, you’re not just investing in the product. You’re investing in the company, expertise, service, and many years of experience that’s led to a high-quality product that has found its way on to a spec sheet. Whether it is chairs, desks, lights, or in this case, a suspended ceiling system – you’re investing in an entire experience that will go far beyond installation.

SAS International is a UK based manufacturer of metal ceilings with close to 53 years of experience and credibility. They are widely considered by those in the industry as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of suspended acoustic ceilings, boasting an impressive array of products, ranging from metal and timber ceilings to room comfort and personal space management. Their factory in Bridgend, Wales, is a 55,000 square meter facility with its very own testing lab, acoustic treatment centre, and state-of-the-art Polyester Powder Coat (PPC) unit. This allows them to take on projects on a massive scale, such as airports, universities, and within the region, Dubai’s RTA metro stations.

We met with the SAS team at their latest Dubai project location, to review the SAS330 and SAS330i – a profile suspended ceiling and integrated lighting that belongs in their premium offering.

The Review Crew

Above from left: Gail Thomson, Founder & Creative Director, Purpose ID; Vijay Nambiar, Senior Interior Designer, SAY Studio; David Booth, GM Operations & Technical, and Shaun Brecher, GM Sales, SAS International

SAS330 – Wide-ranging, Flexible, Versatile

Matching and correlating multiple aspects can be quite a tedious task when specifying a product. This only increases as the scale of the project grows. In the case of ceilings and lighting, it’s always been a challenge for designers to coordinate these details. This is where SAS330 has a huge advantage – it comes to the site as one product, and SAS does all the coordination between different suppliers.

SAS330 is a truly versatile product that has found its way into several large projects around the world because of its aesthetic and high performing design. Shaun Brecher, GM Sales and David Booth, GM Operations & Technical at SAS International, show us around the product and its multiple attributes. The duo is clearly passionate about metal ceilings.

“It’s a truly great product and can come in nearly any shape you can imagine,” says David. “It can be integrated with ease and comes in our standard or bespoke perforations or finishes. As a product it’s trying really hard to work with you.”

Shaun further adds, “David and I have sold pretty much every ceiling product there is, from gypsum to wood to fabric, you name it. But metal just makes our life so much easier because it’s so customisable, easy to make, and durable. At SAS, we understand what metal is capable of and really incorporate what we know into our designs.”

As far as technical details go, the SAS330 ceiling tiles are modular and manufactured in mm increments up to 3 metre lengths. The tiles come in a range of finishes and perforations, and can be easily integrated with light systems. The ceiling tiles and c-profiles can

be formed with apertures during manufacturing and painted after integration with lights and other services. The design involves a mock crossing as well – the c-profiles provide flexibility to avoid costly bridging around ductwork in the void. A touch latch and pivot pin allows easy access by simply pushing up the tile.

The quality and expertise that SAS brings to the table has naturally given them the opportunity to work on several prestigious projects, including HSBC Headquarters here in Dubai. With SAS ceilings on all floors, the team collaborated closely with the design consultants to deliver customised and highly technical solutions for the project. In addition to SAS130 and SAS200 variations, the pinnacle of the project was in the delivery of SAS330i on the executive level. “We were given a strict deadline to design and supply to the executive floor,” says David. “Ensuring high acoustic performance and comfortable lighting, the installation was completed ahead of time and to a very high standard.”

Gail: I like the product and its versatility. I like how it’s technical but you can still play with it. You don’t get that with products of this type. A lot of people forget about ceilings, and as designers, we like to make sure everything has a purpose… ceilings too! This product gives purpose to the ceiling. The best products and companies for designers are those that really go the length to collaborate with us to help us realise our vision. Ceilings can look pretty simple, but it’s a coordination nightmare most of the time. Here, with SAS, the products are also consistently developing and improving, which is something to look forward to.

Vijay: It’s like clay. You can play with it and mold it to your needs. A product should work for the design, not the other way around. That’s what I love about it. From a functional perspective, the integrations, lighting and acoustics for example, work well because it’s about how space feels, not just the aesthetics. Due to the nature of our profession, we are fussy about even the minor details. So when you tell us we can match the finishes we want and not have to trade off costs or technical details (basically not compromise), that’s awesome! The wood finish especially! I like how they’re committed to R&D and to continuously improving the product.

SAS330i – Integrated Lighting

“We already had this beautiful product that worked well, but we knew it could do better,” says Shaun. “So we integrated lighting into it and took it to the next level!” The SAS330i is a fully integrated lighting profile offering an aesthetically and functionally superior option to the alternatives. Just like the original product, SAS330i is also available in linear and tartan grid forms, and sports a monolithic aesthetic matched with high performance in equal measure.

The standard SAS330i profiles are produced in 50 mm increments up to 3 metre lengths. Light modules available in 1.5 metres and 3 metres as a standard, with terminator modules manufactured to order between 0.5 to 3 metres in 50 mm increments. But there are other benefits too, as explained by David and Shaun. As far as the standard LED light source goes, the one used in SAS330i can be expected to comfortably deliver over 90 percent of their peak light output after 60,000 hours of operation. Other than system integration, there are other obvious benefits. Like being able to fully assemble a product that also comes in different colours from the manufacturer. The finish is considerably better because of the way the lighting is installed.

Our Thoughts

Ceiling products can be more complicated than one might assume. You have to coordinate with design, MEP, and other areas of the project to ensure that the specs are accurate. “Clients expect designers to know everything, even when certain domains are clearly beyond their expertise,” says David. “Whether it’s in the contract or not, they expect the design consultant to handle everything. We know we can take care of this stuff and that’s why we’re so confident in our product and services,” adds Shaun. The SAS330 is a robust product that’s almost delivered as a plug and play solution, saving a lot of time and headache for teams. It’s designed, manufactured, assembled and delivered by SAS on site, ensuring the same value is carried along the chain. So when you invest in a SAS product, you rest easy knowing they’ve got your back.

Gail: As designers we always have to work with our clients to help them understand the design. That involves the pricing as well. Given how competitive and accommodating SAS are when it comes to cost, the SAS330 is certainly a well priced product. It’s all about ROI for clients, but you also need technical support and service even after installation. I was impressed by the lighting aspect. When specifying lighting we need to know the system will last long and function smoothly. What was most enlightening for me is the flexibility they offer for the finishes, it’s so encouraging! I can’t think of similar products that offer this level of quality and performance.

Vijay: From a pricing perspective, it’s important to compare apples to apples, which we cannot do as we’re not comparing it to just any gypsum ceiling product. There’s the aesthetics, performance, warranty, and service. Clients will always look for alternatives if they don’t understand this. That being said, it’s very competitively priced, as it offers strong performance backed by service. They have the data and documentation to back them up. When it comes to lighting, the system shouldn’t fail. Faulty lighting looks really bad, so we have to make sure the system is reliable. The customisation is its best feature. I envisioned metal as a rigid finish, but they’ve proved me wrong. Flexibility is key for me, and this product does just that.

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