Light speed

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Roger Van Der Heide, chief design officer at Philips Lighting, talks to MEA about the future of sustainable lighting in the Middle East.

As a lighting designer I’ve been pioneering LED solutions for ten years. I’ve worked on the Yas Marina Hotel, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the second tallest tower in the world in Guangzhou.

We were listed by Dow Jones as the sector leader in sustainability, and we’re proud of that, but we too still have a long way to go. We want to provide people with the tools to make their own lives more sustainable.


Consumers have a very strong desire to personalise their environment. You go on the subway and everyone is listening to their own music. People are empowered to shape the environment as they want to see it.

If you have the choice between two equally good coffee shops for your cappuccino, but one has a biodegradable cup, you will choose it. I think more and more people are choosing the sustainable alternative

Being inside is the new going out, as I like to say.

I have found it striking that not all of the benefits that big corporate clients or real estate developers get out of sustainability is financially motivated. It is actually about their identity, they like to be associated with an innovative or green solution.

At the moment 10% of our business is in LED. In three years time that will be 50%. Things are moving really fast.

It’s good, because LEDs give architects the freedom of design. If we do the right thing with LED then we unlock the design potential of the architect, and that is of course our ambition.

It’s interesting how the lighting designer on the Burj Khalifa marked the building all the way to the top, because it is such a huge structure. But it would be nice if the three dimensionality of it was revealed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is unfinished.

I really want challenge the hospitality industry to be more sustainable. I haven’t seen really hotels being innovative enough yet.

Our imagination is the only thing that can stop us. So that’s really exciting.

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