Speaking at this week’s Lighting Fixture Design conference in London, van der Heide said lighting design is increasingly about application. ‘You can’t just design a lamp anymore,’ he said. ‘You need to understand where the lamp is going into. You’ve got to be relevant.
‘Companies have tried to make better lamps, but it’s essential that we understand what people are going to do with it. We have to understand what drives people, what motivates them to make the choices they make. We have to build a whole new competency in our companies which is about not researching lamps but researching people.’
Van der Heide highlighted some recent Philips innovations achieved through dialogue and collaboration with customers. These included a bike light built into the bike frame, (inspired by a light that a cyclist had put together themselves, having failed to find a good enough one on the market) and a light-emitting belt for back pain, which came about following a conversation between two members of Philips’ staff, one of whom had a sore back.
In fact, van der Heide said, collaboration should be even easier for smaller manufacturers than large ones. ‘As a small manufacturer you’re more agile and team up more naturally, because you don’t have all the resources in-house.’
‘We can only be successful if we build strong relationships, he said. ‘You can only create relevance by understanding each other and knowing what motivates humans. You have to do that together.’