People and milestones

MELLOW LIGHT – Far more than just a new office luminaire

It is now 25 years since the first generation of the MELLOW LIGHT luminaire family was designed with the vision to create light that truly serves people. Indeed, every intelligent product requires people with this kind of vision. In the case of MELLOW LIGHT, this has helped ensure that the needs of the individual have always remained very much the priority.

When the future of the MELLOW LIGHT range was discussed at a workshop almost three years ago, it was not certain whether or not there would still be room in the portfolio for this three-dimensional recessed and surface-mounted luminaire. The ubiquitous flat-panel luminaires were very much the archetypal product of the times, yet a number of loyal followers remained convinced that the MELLOW LIGHT product philosophy had a future. Almost all flat-panel luminaires share the same design language and offer little variability, while customers actually want light that is simultaneously diffuse and directed – reasons enough to give MELLOW LIGHT a chance. A development team of 12 specialists was put together accordingly, supported by an extended circle of around 30 people, with the clear aim of shaping the future of the MELLOW LIGHT luminaire family.

The multi-disciplinary team, united by their shared passion for the medium of light, was driven by the challenge of proving the potential of MELLOW LIGHT. The bar was set high from the very outset, with MELLOW LICHT earmarked as the first Zumtobel luminaire to combine a European launch with worldwide availability, offering a uniform lighting concept to users all around the globe, from New York to Dubai. This global approach naturally had serious implications for the development team, which Joachim Frick carefully managed over several continents from his base in Dornbirn. Specific regional requirements, norms and standards had to be taken into account from the start, like the fact that the driver primarily determines the height of the surface-mounted luminaire in the USA. Preparing production in the three locations of Dornbirn, Guangzhou (CN) / Sydney (AUS) and Highland (USA) provided an additional challenge.

The core team in Dornbirn met mainly in its dedicated project room, which was exclusively set up for this development project. © Zumtobel

The core team in Dornbirn met mainly in its dedicated project room, which was exclusively set up for this development project. Members could therefore at any time immerse themselves in the world of MELLOW LIGHT for a bilateral discussion, a spontaneous exchange of ideas or one of the series of official meetings – an opportunity that was very much appreciated by the team and regularly taken advantage of to set new standards in office lighting by reaching one milestone after the next. Following the official launch in November 2016, the final milestone will take the form of a comprehensive quality check around six months after the realisation of the first projects.

Yet the development journey of such a complex global product is not just about significant milestones. The process is also shaped by a series of minor and major obstacles, as Katja Vonach-Lubetz, Product Manager for MELLOW LIGHT, remembers: "There were certainly a few contentious discussions, but that is what kept driving us on. We were determined not to accept the lowest common denominator, but to really strive to find the best solution - and our ultimate shared goal was always paramount."