Tugra LED - An interview with Karsten Müller (TRILUX) & Bertrand Illert (Noa)

by Jessica Merkens

Albert Einstein once said, ‘make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler’. With the launch of the new Tugra luminaires', TRILUX and design studio NOA have taken Einsteins advice at heart. The result is an extremely versatile luminaire that can be used in endless different ways. The luminaires elegant design and multimodal build gives designers and architects all the tools they need to bring light to any kind of room. From industry to opera house. A conversation with creators Bertrand Illert (NOA) and Karsten Müller (TRILUX) about teamwork in design.

Could you briefly describe the idea behind the design?

Bertrand: ‘It is a simplified product, in the positive way. Basically, it’s a round tube. A universal and minimal form in architecture. It has an archetypical shape. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychotherapist, developed this idea. He asked his students to close their eyes and said: ‘if you walk through a forest and you would find a cup, what would it look like?’. And eighty percent of these students drew the same design afterwards. That was our idea as well with this shape. In the end you want to design something that the customer likes and accepts, without creating barriers.’ Karsten: ‘The last thirty years we developed mostly sharp edged, linear aluminium luminaires. It was definitely time for a round linear luminaire. With a shape that everyone would understand and underlines shapes in architecture.’ Bertrand: ‘What a consumer needs basically is that they don’t want to go through a thousand different products. We started to think about what would really be customer centric, what would fit their needs.’


A customer doesn’t want to go through a thousand different products

So what was the main goal?

Karsten: ‘ To create something that is so nicely looking and universal in a positive way. So that the architect can play with it and do with it whatever he or she wants.’ Bertrand: ‘The product category was very traditional looking, we wanted to create something that brings new spirit and life in this area of products. Something that matches the needs and expectations of modern design.’

What would be your signature style at Noa Agency, Bertrand?

Bertrand: ‘It’s a very holistic and strategic design approach. A nice design is done in five minutes, honestly. But putting all these different aspects together in a clever way is the key. And know your customers. What do they need? The ego is always the biggest problem. It keeps us away from straight, efficient and solution oriented work. That’s what you have to overcome and what really happened in this project. We made a great team.’

What was the best part of the design process?

Bertrand: ‘I would say first of all a mutual understanding. We both believe in positive thinking and a constructive way of work. And from this starting point, having the great skills and competences of the entire project team. It doesn’t matter if it is marketing, product management, design or R&D, you arrive at such a successful result.’ Another great colleague of mine always said, ‘it’s all about the people’. This is what I’ve learned once more. I mean, you can be very creative and have nice ideas, but everything is based on understanding and working together in teams. Co-creation instead of competition.’ Karsten: ‘Yes, we had a top team behind us. Our colleagues in Spain & Germany from Noa and TRILUX supported us very well.’

How sustainable is the Tugra luminaire?

Bertrand: ‘Sustainability was a big issue from the beginning. We had to produce the luminaire in a material that is on the one hand recyclable, such as the plastic housing. And on the other hand, design it in a way that when parts break, you can dismount the luminaire. It’s an open system, everything can be changed. This way you can keep the product for a very, very long lifecycle. That is key. For instance, when you buy a new, but more sustainable car every three years, you’re doing a bad thing to our planet. Just because producing this new car has a huge carbon footprint. It’s probably much more eco friendly to buy for instance, just a new battery. That’s why we tried to make a design that is long lasting. When in five years a new generation of LEDs comes along, you can update the product and keep most of the parts. And also the round design shape never goes out of fashion.’ Karsten: ‘And to add, efficiency is very important. Ideally you want a luminaire with a lot of light output, and minimal energy use. Next to that we only used pure materials without colouring so that we can shred and recycle them in our factory in Spain. TRILUX is a partner of Madaster, the digital materials library. Our target is to have a passport of the CO2 footprint for all our luminaires, including Tugra.’


You have to simplify in a world that’s becoming more and more complex

How can the luminaire be used?

Karsten: ‘In the end it can be used for a lot of applications. The first use might be the industry and parking areas, but I’m sure architects and designers will also find this product. It would also be perfect for floors, loft offices and open offices.’ Bertrand: ‘It’s a weatherproof luminaire, but it’s so nicely designed that you can go with it to an opera house. It has character and an origin, and it’s multiple use. This was our main idea. To think more into the future, how future generations will design and see the world. You can’t tell them anymore: ‘you need this product with this and that name and color and material for this room. But in another room it doesn’t work anymore’. Rather, we took a super simple shape where you can put it anywhere you’d like. You have to simplify in a world that’s becoming more and more complex.’

So it’s like a building block that you can use in multiple ways?

Bertrand: ‘Exactly. It’s a tool. We wanted to create a product that connects spaces. Which means that it can be used in more or less every application that you can think of. It’s the common thread that runs through all applications.’

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