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Q & A: Jake Dyson highlights the importance of engineering-driven design

Q & A: Jake Dyson highlights the importance of engineering-driven design

Jake Dyson, James Dyson Award, Lighting design

At the launch of the prestigious James Dyson Award in Dubai, Jake Dyson tells Commercial Interior Design that innovation will underscore development around the world.

Jake Dyson has not only inherited a famous last name but also an equally brilliant mind. His father, Sir James Dyson, revolutionised electronics appliances by integrating design with cutting-edge technologies. Dyson, 45, is not only the current flagbearer of this renowned brand, but also an inventor and innovation expert himself. In Dubai recently for the launch of The James Dyson Award, which recognises problem-solving inventions by students and budding designers, Dyson speaks about the company’s mission – to harness the power of science and technology to bring about a positive change in the world.

Why do you reckon UAE is the best place in the Middle East for The James Dyson Award?

The James Dyson Award is an international student design award, which recognises problem-solving inventions. The brief is deliberately wide, but many of the entries we get are focused on solving environmental and health issues. Encouraging innovation and advancing technology to increase sustainability are high on the agenda in the UAE with initiatives such as Innovation Month, so launching the James Dyson Award here seemed like a natural step.

What do you think of the region’s design and tech innovation scene?

It is admirable that the government is taking steps to encourage innovation. A big problem we face back in the UK is a shortage of highly skilled engineers. In all economies, encouraging and developing skills within the fields of science, technology and engineering is vital. I believe that engineers will help us solve some of the biggest problems we face.

What can be expected from the recently announced collaboration between Acoulite and Dyson?

We are pleased to share that Dyson Lighting will be available in the region through Acoulite.  Our LED lighting provides powerful light, precisely where it’s needed – increasing efficiency and user benefits. Our engineered luminaires are designed specifically for high-power LEDs, so we’re not retrofitting LEDs into fixtures that were designed for conventional light sources. Therefore, we can change the way spaces are lit, directing the light with custom-engineered lenses and shutters. Heat pipe technology keeps the LEDs cool, enabling us to offer a longevity that many others don’t.

How has lighting design evolved over the years and what are some of the pioneering technologies in the sector that Dyson has invented?

There is a growing understanding that different types of light are required for different activities, for different individuals, at different times throughout the day. There is still some way to go, though, as many lights are designed to tick regulatory boxes, or from a primarily aesthetic standpoint. An increasing amount of research suggests that light can affect factors as big as productivity and well-being. Also, there has been a growing drive to increase efficiency, to reduce environmental impact.

The Cu-Beam Duo suspended light offers combined up and down light in a single fixture with full flexible control. It can be altered to suit changing needs throughout the day and can help to light a space with fewer fixtures. By providing light precisely where it’s needed, we can avoid wasteful directing of light where it’s not needed, or by excessively ‘bleaching out’ spaces with too much light.

What are the focal points to keep in mind for good lighting design principles in a commercial space?

Good lighting design should take into account that end users have different needs for different activities at different times, and should therefore offer some degree of customisability and control. Task lighting combined with indirect ambient lighting is one way to achieve this. Equally, good lighting design should try to achieve as much as possible with as few inputs as possible, to drive efficiency. We refer to this approach as ‘lean engineering’ at Dyson and it’s actually one of our guiding principles in everything we do.

Can you cite an example of a space that best embodies lighting design principles?

Within the D9 research and development building at the Dyson technology campus in Wiltshire, UK, we wanted to avoid the uniform and imprecise blanket of light which can be found in some commercial environments, and instead offer flexible, customisable lighting that can be optimised for the activity at hand. It was also important for the lighting to complement the collaborative style of working, as D9’s occupants are not desk-bound, but instead use multiple spaces in different ways throughout the day.

In the open office areas of D9, an even split of up and down light provides comfortable conditions for computer work, with the flexibility to adjust for additional down lighting if a particular bank of desks is being used for intricate work, such as sketching.

Meeting rooms and breakout areas can be similarly adjusted, for example reducing down light during presentations to avoid competing with the projector, or increasing down light during a brainstorming session to promote productivity.

Who are your favourite lighting designers, if any?

There are many lighting designers I admire including Mark Ridler at London-based Building Design Partnership lighting practice and Dominic Meyrick at British firm Hoare Lea. Among those who’ve designed lighting fixtures, I enjoy the work of the Castiglioni Brothers and Richard Sapper. I’m a fan of many architects too, including Chris Wilkinson and Norman Foster.

You’ve inherited such a big legacy. What is your vision to carry the Dyson brand forward?

Dyson is a family-owned business and will remain so. This enables us to take a very long-term view, and only release products when we’re ready to do so. Therefore, I view my role as being a long-term custodian on behalf of the family, to continue driving forward our philosophy of using science and research to develop technology that solves the problems many others ignore. We spend $9.8 million a week on research and development and employ more than 3,500 of the best engineers and scientists worldwide.

What is on the anvil for Dyson in the region?

Following the opening of the first Dyson Demo store in the region in Dubai Mall last year, we are excited to continue to bring our latest technology to consumers in the region, and to hear their feedback on our machines. We hope to make a positive difference to people’s lives with our products.

Read designMENA’s report on the launch of the James Dyson Award in the UAE

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