Meet James Bryden

The genius behind our Bio-polymer lighting range

25 January 2024

In the world of product design, there are people who go beyond the limits of creativity and engineering prowess.

James Bryden, the designer behind our groundbreaking bio-polymer product range, whose journey from Coventry University, a career at Dyson, to founding Hexaᶟ® led him to Shoplight, resulting in NORT, NORT GS and Colt Bio coming to life, is nothing short of inspiring.

James Bryden

The Dyson Years: A Decade of Design

James’s career in design took off when he accomplished his Master of Design in Industrial Product Design (Hons) at Coventry University and started his first role at Dyson. There he embarked on a decade-long partnership that unfolded through various roles within the design process of new products. From his first month in the test department to his time in New Product Innovation (NPI) and New Product Development (NPD), James delved into the intricacies of designing, testing, and the whole product development cycle. His role in developing the DC23 and DC41 vacuum cleaners and later the key innovation that made its way into the AM06 desk fan showcased his creativity, applicability, and versatility, and contributed to the evolution of the household products we know today.

Hexa®: A Vision for Quality and Sustainability

Enter Hexaᶟ®. James envisioned 3D printing and product design working together, with a desire to develop products that focused on quality, personalisation, and sustainability.  Hexaᶟ® is where James could focus on his niche business model with a vision for consistency, reliability, and sustainability – “This enables me to help others to do what they’ve never done before.” Focusing on his small business, James felt he could use his own thought processes and solution architecture to develop new innovations and help others to do the same.

NORT: Challenging the Status Quo

The collaboration between James and Mark birthed NORT, a revolutionary lighting solution that is challenging retail lighting industry norms. The two met through Mark’s collaboration with Fourmation when Mark was just beginning to look into 3D printing. Mark and James joint belief in the impossible and their commitment to innovation set the stage for a sustainable product designed with a fresh perspective.

When Shoplight became a B Corp, it fuelled Mark’s understanding of the impact the retail lighting industry had on carbon emissions and environmental waste. By talking to clients, he also found that many retailers opted for standard aluminium lighting because of a lack of availability and cost constraints of sustainable alternatives. It’s this growing awareness and a desire to move into more sustainable practices that drove Mark to think of NORT.

A true collaboration

Mark’s confidence in James grew when he realised that James wasn’t just someone that “just printed things.” James could use his free reign and inspiration to make NORT a reality. Something that appealed to Mark was that James had never designed a light before, so he could look at it from a completely different perspective and design something that was better, more affordable, and easier to use. The special thing about James and Mark’s relationship was they genuinely believed in NORT, and both wanted to push back on what everyone else believed was impossible. James said,

It’s rare to find a client that wants to do things the way you want too as well.”

Reverse Engineering Brilliance

James’s ability to turn challenges into triumphs shines in NORT’s design.  When considering the pain points of standard aluminium LED lights, he asked, “How can we look at this differently?”. By incorporating bio-polymers in the frame and housing together with a uniquely designed aluminium heat sink, James addressed insulation concerns and improved thermal management. Our patent pending VenTec® technology allows for thermal heat to expel from the light without risking the efficiency or longevity of the product. This exploration of thermals paved the way for a modular, circular economy design approach within retail lighting.

James also wanted to tackle concerns about waste as he couldn’t understand why luminaires within retail were simply thrown into landfill after use. This informed the development of the modular designs you see within our bio-polymer range. He meticulously designed the light to have components that could easily be removed, replaced, and upgraded. Right the way down to removing the need for thermal paste on the LED chips – and adopting a bayonet-style LED COB holder.

The Meticulous Process Behind Nort

James’s commitment to excellence is evident in NORT’s journey from concept to creation. James utilised CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) to simulate thermal dynamics, ensuring NORTs real-world applicability. This was a pivotal moment for James during the design of NORT, because it confirmed NORT’s applicability when transferred in real life. By looking at different thermal layouts and how to distribute heat and cooling James developed VenTec®. By November 2022, James had created the first Nort prototype which he presented to Mark and Fourmation. With 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD), James crafted prototypes over a period of 9 months which evolved into the innovative NORT we see today.

Working Together to Clean Up Retail

James Bryden’s design journey is a testament to resilience, innovation, and the pursuit of excellence. From his formative years at Coventry University to his transformative tenure at Dyson and the founding of Hexaᶟ®, James has emerged as a luminary in the design engineering landscape.

In a world where design meets purpose, James Bryden is the visionary shaping the future of bio-polymer products—one innovation at a time. Working closely with Mark and the team at Shoplight, the impactful range of cleaner bio-polymer retail lighting is growing as a result of creating a safe space and freedom to question and challenge everything about traditional retail lighting. The future is bright. It’s cleaner, more sustainable, and circular.

Recent articles