Note: Due to a NDA, only a high-level summary of the process can be shown. Details including findings and deliverables can be shared in person.
Program Duration: Phase 1 (Opportunity Identification) – 3 months; Phase 2 (Concept Evaluation) – 3 months
My Role: Design Researcher & Strategist
A U.S. based bathroom and kitchen furniture manufacturer wanted to define a future direction and a roadmap for product concepts for bathroom spaces in private homes, to prompt both functional innovation and meaningful experiences for high-end, tech-savvy consumers. The aim of the project was to identify a future direction and new product opportunities that leverage emerging technologies such as sensors and Internet of Things as well as new lighting applications, in order to improve people’s everyday experiences in the bathroom.
Initial Thoughts and Questions
How is lighting defined from a technological sense? From a functional sense? Emotional? Social? Evolutionary?
How do people perceive the bathroom space? What shapes and influences this perception?
What are key activities and use cases that occur in the bathroom? What role, if any, does lighting play?
What are analogous environments that utilize lighting beyond a functional sense? How do they achieve this?
What are current and emerging trends in regard to beauty, hygiene, grooming, and wellbeing?
What health conditions are aggravated and/or alleviated by lighting?
What are new technologies in regard to lighting and lighting product ecosystems?
The research approach focused on expanding the outlook on lighting beyond its traditional functions and layering multiple dimensions of bathroom behaviors people exhibit today. The key criteria were to view bathroom as a whole, rather than a series of equipment, considering all aspects of the everyday needs in which lighting can satisfy above and beyond the purpose of illumination. This wider perspective, which included viewing lighting from technical, functional, social, emotional, health, and evolutionary perspectives, enabled a discovery of innovative opportunities that redefine bathroom lighting.
Foundational Research Topics:
Competitive Product Analysis
Lighting Elements and Environments
Home Bathroom Remodeling Trends
Light's Effect on Health and Wellbeing – Studied specific health conditions aggravated or alleviated by lighting, including age-related changes in vision, headaches & migraines, seasonal & nonseasonal depression, dementia, menstruation, and pregnancy.
Emerging Technology – Studied key technology development and trends that influence lighting in the home such as IoT.
Social & Behavioral Trends – Studied shifts in consumer behavior trends that are directly or indirectly affecting use of the bathroom space such as grooming and perceptions of cleanliness.
Current State of Lighting: Outlined the evolution of lighting's role and purpose to understand perceptions, expectations, and attitudes towards lighting.
Lighting Applications: Organized research findings into three primary categories: Technology, Health + Wellbeing, and Society + Behavior to shape opportunity areas.
Opportunity Area Development
Through an in-depth understanding of the role and meaning of lighting, as well as lighting applications, we identified four opportunity areas: Transformation, Immersion, Safety, and Health. Each area outlined where lighting was currently and where it could be, supported by findings from sociocultural, technological, and health perspectives. Additionally, we provided sketches of design concepts to fuel a ideation workshop between our internal team and the client.
Co-Creation Workshop and Concept Development
Along with the Design Research and Strategy Lead, I organized and facilitated a two-day co-creation workshop with our client's multidisciplinary team. During the workshop, we gained insight into the client's objectives, brand identity, and business strategy, which informed the "Criteria for Success". Using this criteria, we selected and refined concepts to evaluate with users.
Concept Evaluation and Refinement
The primary consideration for recruitment was people who value and invest their home bathrooms. As a result, we recruited 15 homeowners who recently completed a bathroom remodel or were planning a near-term bathroom model. Interviews were conducted in the respondent's home. During the 2 hour interview, we conducted environmental audits which consisted of a bathroom walk-through and discussion about expectations and priorities as well as their daily routines. Then, we showed a 2-D rendering of each concept, one-by-one, and gauged the respondent's level of interest, suggestions, and purchase interest.
In order to prioritize concepts, we ranked them from “Must Have” to “Nice-to-Have” and “Unnecessary”. The “Nice-to-Have” category was further supported by conditional statements (for example, nice-to-have IF the light was a different color). Once the concepts were down-selected, we worked with our industrial design team to render realistic images of what the concept could look like, in order to transition into evaluating technical feasibility and refining design.
The research indicated the vast and untapped potential of lighting in the bathroom, shifting from its basic role of illumination to a heightened role that augments daily routines. Through this program, we provided clear direction for our client to enter a new product category as well as insight into people's expectations and preferences.