Recognising that design is a key factor of brand differentiation and a significant source of competitive advantage, van der Heide’s fresh perspective, coupled with his twenty years of experience in design-led innovation and the creation of lighting solutions, is set to light the way forward for the company.

“Lighting design can explore new and unique ways that lighting can meet people’s needs and aspirations through form, function and emotion. Rogier’s work has shown that he truly understands how to simply enhance people’s lives with light.

"By bringing Rogier into the design leadership of the company we are strengthening our commitment to the field of lighting design and becoming a better partner for our customers,’” says Stefano Marzano, CEO Philips Design and Chief Design Officer for Philips.

Van der Heide, who took the post in March of this year, is internationally recognised as a leading architectural lighting design specialist and has been awarded many of the industry’s most prestigious awards, including the Lighting Designer of the Year Award 1998, the International Association of Lighting Design Radiance Award in 2005 and the International Lighting Design Award of Excellence in 2005 and 2006. Until recently, he was director at Arup, and Global Business Leader Lighting Design of Arup Lighting.

Curve editor Belinda Stening discussed the new role with Rogier van der Heide.

What areas of lighting design will you now be focusing on at Philips?

Philips has over a century of history in lighting and it is in the very heart of the company’s DNA to see light as life enhancing: a meaningful part of everyday life, whether at home, at work, in the public space or in the hospital. Lighting design is the art and science of applying light to create comfort for people, and to understand what that means today and in the future.

How will design create brand differentiation in lighting for Philips?

Our proposition ‘simply enhancing life with light’ requires a deep understanding of design, and a sense of direction. By further developing our vision on lighting design we will give meaning to our proposition.

Is there any new research or conceptual work in lighting design that you feel is groundbreaking at the moment?

Lighting for health is truly groundbreaking in the sense that designers and scientists can team up to create solutions that make people recover more quickly from illness, stay healthier and feel better. All of this is based on scientific evidence, and current projects with universities, research centres and academic hospitals are very exciting.

The amazing thing is that lighting does not have only a visibility component (‘light allows us to see’) and an aesthetic component (‘light entices us’) but also a health and healing component (‘light makes us healthy’). For example, by exposing patients to certain colours of light and avoiding others, sleep patterns in hospital environments can be restored and promote a quicker recovery.

Also, the Ambient Experience for Healthcare – for example, for children in paediatric clinics – can ease patients, comfort them and therefore promote faster treatment and more comfortable relationships with the medical staff.

Lighting is in the unique position of being at the crossroads of functionality, perception and experience, and we believe that designing lighting, with all these parameters in mind, is an important element when offering people a healthier life.

What are the biggest challenges facing lighting design at the moment – and into the future?

Good lighting design enhances our lives while being responsible towards our planet and resources. The challenge for the lighting design profession is to engage with other stakeholders in such a way that this message becomes clear to all.

The emphasis is currently strongly on energy savings by means of advanced technology. That is a good thing, but design accelerates the process of energy savings too! Architects, engineers, manufacturers and operators could all be coordinated towards holistic lighting solutions that require less energy than efficient technology alone would need.

As a lighting designer, what are the key issues you always need to address with new projects?

Understand people. Get everyone involved. Do not covet your ideas.

What I mean is that, only in networked environments, where ideas are freely shared among different professionals, will innovation flourish. The way Philips collaborates with lighting designers is a great example.

Now, with the establishment of a Chief Design Officer for Lighting at Philips, we are in an even better position to engage with and support the lighting design community with our knowledge, ideas and understanding of light. 

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