Luminaires for Teenagers
When Corporate meets Student: Shaping collaboration with PHILIPS and LUCA School of Arts

The objective of the project was to set up a first official collaboration between LUCA School of Arts (C-Mine Campus, Product Design Department) and Koninklijke Philips Electronics BV.

The underlying ambition consisted of taking a first step towards the trust needed for a more structural alliance by means of a design assignment for students of product design in the 3rd year of their bachelor. After all, for the innovative power of a region it is important that companies and knowledge institutions join forces.

In order to get acquainted with one another's work methods, a simple design process was set up in which students got the assignment to dive into the world of teenagers and design and prototype original light fixtures for this group.

The students were supported by a team of teachers from LUCA and the specialists of Philips Lighting in this assignment.

The ultimate ambition of the project was to pave the path towards a possible structural collaboration or alliance between Philips and LUCA School of Arts.

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SNOKX strongly believes a connection to the cross-section between education, government and business. It appears to be a No Man's Land, even though everyone still has something to add to it and its importance is clearly increasing.

The times that companies and organisations each worked on their own islands to achieve innovations has long been a thing of the past. The challenges of today require increasingly more system solutions and this leads to the conclusion that collaboration is ‘the way to go’…

Our experience teaches us that collaboration between companies and universities (too) often still occurs on an ad hoc basis. Up to now, that is, as the demand for more structural forms of alliance is growing on both sides. And although companies and universities may seem to be driven by different objectives and interests upon first glance, we are convinced that it is important that this collaboration does not only take place at the level of research groups at the knowledge institution, and that it is not limited to internships for students at various companies.

In this context, Dany Snokx (SNOKX) and Wendela Vuurberg (Philips Lighting University), invited the Product Design Department of the LUCA School of Arts and Philips to initiate a student project together. This, with the ambition to pave the way for making a more in-depth collaboration in the future possible.

We know that these things do not happen by themselves; that it is no easy task to have two organisations collaborate.

A good match between the partners, availing of the capacity to maintain a flexible attitude, and being able to adjust during the collaboration turn out to be the essential basic prerequisites for a successful cooperation.

As Dany's experience as Creative Director at Philips Design for Philips Lighting, he has experience in setting up projects with various universities, for example a joint project with Philips Lighting, Philips Design, the Technische Universität Darmstadt (product design) and the Hochschule der Bildende Künste Saar (architecture). It provided a solid base and the mutual confidence to approach matters effectively and efficiently from the outset.

We felt that it had to be a relatively simple project to start with.  Not a project with the ambition to improve the world or for which very heavy or in-depth themes had to be dealt with.  At least, not at this stage yet. The project had to primarily be based on the field of education and not in the first place with commercial intentions (although these were not excluded), and mainly tailored to third year students of product design. It had to be aligned with what is possible in the structures of a multinational such as Philips (they also needed to see added value) and of course the design had to be up-to-date and challenging.

This is how we arrived at the formulation of the following – at first glance simple – assignment for the project: “Design light fixtures for teenagers”. We added a lesson and activity plan in order to give the project some structure and a frame of reference.


The project ran for about half of the academic year, from November 2014 up to and including May 2015, and was at covered in multiple course units.

Both inside LUCA and at Philips a fixed team of supervisors was installed. This team supported the students throughout the entire project and regularly offered supplementary support in terms of advice and assistance.

The project was kickstarted at Philips Lighting in Kontich. The LUCA campus at C-mine functioned as a studio, for organising creative workshops, interim presentations, prototyping, and such.

During the project, the students and their teachers were given the chance to visit the Philips Lighting Application Center in Eindhoven. This helped them get a better insight into the features, possibilities and applications of lighting in general and LED light sources in particular. There was also the opportunity to then consult with other specialists.

Furthermore, Philips LED technology was made available so that the students could experiment with it and use it for making dummies and prototypes. Without this gesture, many students would not have been in the position to have carried the project financially.

The students all grabbed this chance with both hands and did their utmost with trial and error to create the most beautiful designs that will undoubtedly inspire Philips in the future. Each and every one of them took the offered ideas, tips, considerations, critical questions, oppositions, etc. into their design process.  They enriched it with their own investigation into the target group.  Each student has spent many hours on creating original concepts, in order to ultimately elaborate on their favourite design to make a prototype. Credit for the results in this site primarily belongs to them.

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At SNOKX we believe that it is important to take a moment to consider the career of 'the designers'. Even if it is just to better understand in what context further collaboration and alliance building can best be seen.

Generations of designers have developed further and further evolved the design field. Since the new millennium “Innovation” was the code word of the first decade in which many design agencies added new skill sets to their teams such as strategic design, co-creation and rapid prototyping. Presently, we realise that even this does not suffice.

The world is facing incredible challenges, such as over-population, food shortages, health care, exhaustion of our natural resources and energy. In addition, innovation has shifted its focus from the importance of technological improvements to the innovation of meaning.

In order to be able to engage with this, we must create ecosystems (and not mere products) and understand in the first place 'what' creates meaning for people. Therefore, it is paramount that design is empowered to generate real life-changing ideas.

Naturally, this cannot occur in isolation, but in co-authorship and therefore with involvement from all stakeholders.  Incidentally, no single individual, organisation, knowledge institution, organisation or government is able to face today's challenges alone.

In other words, we find ourselves in a time of transformation that brings along new challenges and in which collaboration has become essential.

We have successfully completed this project to serve as an example of a successful collaboration.

Admittedly at the product level, and with a short-term perspective. We have successfully repeated the initiative the following academic year with a similar program. Both have proven a valuable exercise in getting better acquainted with each other.

However, design innovation also needs a long-term approach. With a horizon that reaches farther than currently is often the case. It is therefore important to look ahead and feed that which has been learned and harvested.

Imperative is a permanent dialogue between companies, the creative community, education and the government.  In this permanent dialogue lie the keys (and also challenges) to success at a corporate and academic level and ultimately also for everybody who wants to make a global impact with local results.

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