Bartenbach, nestled in the Austrian Alps, is a research and development laboratory dedicated to light, and it is always at the cutting edge of research. With a long and successful history in light innovation, Bartenbach is also world renowned for light design and installations.
Due to their vast and varied experience, Bartenbach has been chosen to lead varied light research projects, including a Horizon2020 project called Repro-Light. As part of this project they utilised their expertise in user centric research processes. The team of experts at Bartenbach have launched into an in-depth program of qualitative and quantitative research, exploring the needs and future requirements of modular luminaire architecture.
Leading the user research workshops at Bartenbach is Markus Canazei, Head of Visual Perception; in this interview he shares his approach and processes when creating valuable and informative user research programs.
How do you find the participants for your user workshops?
We establish the aims of the research and then we look for study participants. Very often the participants come with our clients. We also use our co-workers because they are so experienced. They are up to date with all the new ideas and the new technologies, the field as a whole, and they are all experts in their own right. They are tuned into the markets and the varied in-depth developments in these markets.
At Bartenbach we have a diverse collection of co-workers who have varied and unique backgrounds. We have people specialised in lighting design, architecture, electrical and mechanical engineers, psychology, physics, and mathematics. Many are focused on technological aspects, while some concentrate on the built environment and its effects on human beings. We only have to ask a colleague, and we can have access to varied and fantastic knowledge. As there are ‘no boarders’ in our organisation we can collaborate easily. From ideation to the final product is a long journey and through our research, we can make sure the journey has the best possible insightful start.
You are applying this working practice to research projects, including Repro-light project. What is the focus of those Repro-light workshops?
We are focusing on specification and requirements, both from a technical and psychology of perception perspective. We need to understand the visual and technical requirements to go forward. In workshops we are speaking to developers about the parameters of the Repro-light project and collating all their thoughts and ideas. They develop new parts and components for lighting solutions in their everyday work and with their expertise in the global lighting market they will bring great insights. We allow them the freedom to discuss and share how they think about stakeholders, future markets, and current roles in the industry. We have to know where we are going with a project like Repro-light to make sure we create the best possible future lighting solutions.
The workshop format is divided into two; half the time the group will be focused on small group discussions, then we will open up the floor to the whole group to begin a debate about the 5 to 10 year potential market, how future modular luminaires will look like, what the role of lighting designers will be, and what we can do with the possibilities on the horizon. It’s an exciting time in light and lighting.
What are the objectives of the Repro-light workshops you are running?
The ambition is to help create a direction and to allow us to make informed decisions going forward with the Repro-light project. Co-creation is an approach we believe in, it will have a big impact on our work as it is very relevant to a multiple company consortia, like the one Repro-light has founded. We want the end-user and creators of innovative lighting solutions to be actively involved in all our projects. Within this work, we are following two approaches, the quantitative and qualitative.
The quantitative approach (surveying more than thousand end-users in several EU-countries) allows us to collate large volumes of numbers, data that we can work through and evaluate; data that can build up patterns and show us connections that can reveal the requirements of different users. We then expand our knowledge with the qualitative work (focus groups following an intensive co-creation process); because maybe we forgot something in our survey and these workshops we are running for Repro-light will allow us to explore more about personalisation, customisation, and modularisation. By combining the qualitative and the quantitative approach we hope to gather the full collection of insights to give the consortium an insightful, informed direction.
What are the benefits of this approach?
It broadens our perspective on a topic. We will use the expertise of the participants of the focus groups to see how close we can come to reaching our goal. We are humble; we are researchers and we can only see so far. We are ‘blind’ to the full potential, to certain aspects of the project.
These workshops allow us to see more; they open up the potential of a project and shine new light on parts of the future market and opportunities we might not have seen without the external expert insights. After the workshop process, once we have all the data, we start the discussion process. We will feed in our ideas to the industrial partners (in this case Trilux) and we will go through all the possibilities the research unearthed. In the end, we want to create an innovative technical specification of the future luminaire. We compliment Trilux as we focus on lighting, not the luminaire; the two approaches work well together when creating a future modular luminaire solution.
We have had the first focused group with planners. We collated over 270 ideas in just this one session and we will cluster them and group them, number them and then conduct a qualitative review of quantitative data. We will repeat this approach with the full management board of Bartenbach and by the end of this process we will have spoken to over 25% of all employees at Bartenbach. Technology is a driving force right now, lots of people in lighting are overwhelmed, and this process is really beneficial to establish clear and defined routes and paths with a fixed and valuable purpose.
For more information about the work of Markus, and the team, please visit www.bartenbach.com