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Dash to the Office

Details, a division of Steelcase, presents dash, a high-tech LED task light designed with both the user and the planet in mind.

By Janet Wiens

Details, a division of Steelcase, presents dash, a high-tech LED task light designed with both the user and the planet in mind.

It is easy to overlook the importance of lighting. When offices are designed, the focus typically falls on high-profile additions like workstations, daylighting and ergonomic seating; meanwhile, the details that actually help get the work done, such as task lighting, are specified with much less fanfare.

The good news is that a host of new lighting products, developed in response to advances in technology and sustainability requirements, are grabbing the attention of designers and users alike. Dash, a new LED task light by Details, is a leading example of the new crop of lighting solutions designed with both the user and the planet in mind.

According to Jody Hanson, general manager for Details, dash's story began by analyzing what workers require. "We believed that our company could bring a great new product to market by taking a closer look at what a good user experience really looked like," she says. "LED is a leading-edge technology that continues to improve. There was an opportunity, in our opinion, to bring something unique to the marketplace."

Company officials eventually developed five key goals for the product. A high-performance optics package was required; light distribution had to be even across the work area; effortless movement was essential; the product had to work globally; and the light's manufacturing and performance had to reflect Details' corporate and environmental beliefs.

The design team at Details collaborated with the staff at the London-based firm Foster + Partners to develop concepts and finalize the design over a two-year period. Jeff Charon, product manager for Details, says that team members did not have any pre-defined design ideas when they began the project. "Through ideation—the process of generating concepts and ideas—we designed the fixture around the technology to meet our objectives."

That sense of willingness to follow the design wherever it led the team proved to be invaluable. Charon notes that LED technology advanced during development and that the team switched the light-engine package twice to provide users with the best available technology. In fact, the final product visually resembles early design concepts, but the technology is dramatically different from what was originally considered.

"The ability to change the light head was part of our original plan, and we certainly saw the value of that during design," Charon says. "Customers can change the light head as technology improves and they can also replace the light head in the field if there is a failure. It's a sustainable approach."

Dash was finally introduced to the world at NeoCon in 2010; a year later, designers continue to be attracted to the lamp's refined senses of style and function.

"Our success in the U.S. has been excellent, and we anticipate the same results when we introduce in the European market this June and when we enter the Asian market at a later date," Hanson says. "We staggered dash's introduction into various international markets to make certain that our manufacturing and distribution channels were appropriate."

It is easy to see why designers and users have found dash so appealing. The LED head provides a consistent and optimum pool of light across the work surface, and the removable design means that it can be easily replaced when its 50,000 hours of rated LED life are complete or technology advances, whichever comes first.

One of dash's other important features is its wireless construction. Electricity passes through a wireless current which eliminates the use of PVC, another environmental consideration. The elimination of wires also allowed the team to achieve the ability to rotate the lower arm 360 degrees along the axis of the base. (The head can also rotate 360 degrees along the horizontal plane.) A variable spring force in the arm allows for easy adjustability.

Charon notes that dash has other notable sustainable attributes. "Dash is the first free-standing LED task light to achieve BIFMA level 1 certification," he says. "It is 97 percent recyclable and has 32 percent recycled content, and requires only 8 watts of power. Our key supplier is located 30 miles from us, which speaks to the thoughtfulness behind our supply chain."

The light may be used as a freestanding unit or may be rail-mounted. The design allows users to extend the arm to a maximum horizontal reach of 32 inches, which provides easy use in even the deepest of work surfaces. Equally important, the ability to rotate the head means that users can easily select from indirect or direct illumination.

The light comes in three standard finishes—arctic white, black and platinum—that Charon says allows dash to be successfully integrated with a range of furniture palettes. Six accent or trend colors are also available, which will change over time, based on evolving design trends. Requests for custom colors are accommodated through the company's Perfect Match program.

Dash's design, beauty and sustainable features make it a strong choice when it comes to LED task lighting. To learn more, visit the company's website at Information on Foster + Partners can be found at

Janet Wiens is a freelance writer based in Memphis, TN. She was formerly a marketing manager for HNTB and now works with industry clients to address their marketing and public relations needs. She can be reached at