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Leading With Light: LEDs Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Program Recognizes Mason Barker

LEDs Magazine recognized Mason Barker, vice president of product development at Luminii, in its inaugural 40 Under 40 Awards. The program celebrates some of the industry’s brightest young professionals as they advance LED technologies and SSL applications around the globe. 

Barker’s passion for light inspires his team to push boundaries and develop groundbreaking LED technologies. He has also helped clients bring their visions to life throughout every stage of his career, xxxfrom lighting designer to co-founder and co-owner of an LED lighting manufacturing firm. Now at Luminii, he continues revolutionizing LED technologies, streamlining supply chains and challenging us to look at light from different perspectives.   

Read our interview with Barker to learn what makes him one of the industry’s young professionals to watch. With several exciting product development and operational projects in the works, we can’t wait to see what he achieves next—not only here at Luminii, but for the lighting design industry as a whole. 

What are some experiences and lessons you learned that helped you take your career to the next level? 

I have a strong background in design. I worked as a lighting designer early in my career and bring that experience with me as I work with our team and customers. Also, I focus on providing custom solutions to our customers. Listening to customers and their needs makes a world of difference as well. For example, listening to customer feedback inspired us to create the award-winning VintageDim product

Can you share some of your achievements as they relate to innovation and leadership in LED design?

I led the development of VintageDim and VintageDim 2 while running product development at Optic Arts. VintageDim is a programmable dim-to-warm and tunable white system that allows customers to use our smartphone app to create custom dim-to-warm curves and control various features and driver settings.

We were granted a patent (U.S. patent US10278251B1) for the core technology in that system. The VintageDim and VintageDim2 also earned a number of awards and recognitions, including Best in Category at the 2019 LFI Innovation Awards, the 2018 LEDs Magazine Sapphire Award and selection in the 2017 Illuminating Engineering Society Progress Report.

Throughout my career, my teams and I have received additional patents for developing lighting and LED technologies, including US9494844B2, USD877399S1 and USD818633S1.

Tell us about your experience at Optic Arts and how you built the company from the ground up.

My biggest professional achievement is building Optic Arts, with co-founders Dorian Hicklin and Jason Mullen, from a side project to the company that Luminii acquired in 2019. From founding the company to selling it, we experienced very rapid growth over five years.

As a co-founder, I was instrumental in scaling the product development and operations arms of the business to accommodate that growth. When we started Optic Arts, I knew very little about product development and operations. So, in addition to running and scaling the company, I had to educate myself—mostly by reading books.

We made a few distinct impacts on the industry while building Optic Arts. We created a project-focused company that listened to our customers and structured the entire organization around meeting the needs of their projects. We also decided early on that we were going to be a people-focused company. This philosophy played into how we interacted with customers and how we aimed to treat each employee. Our focus on people and projects has led to a lot of loyalty from both customers and employees. 

What are some creative strategies you have led throughout your career?

I led a project that moved the manufacturing of a large percentage of extruded aluminum and extruded plastic materials from international suppliers to suppliers in southern California. This strategy minimized the carbon footprint of our products by reducing the distance our materials were required to travel. 

Now, you’re the vice president of product development at Luminii. Tell us about your work so far in this role.

Since joining Luminii, I've been focusing my product development energies on working with our customers to come up with customized solutions tailored to their project needs. I work hand-in-hand with sales to provide this kind of support to our customers as a value-added service. 

I've also focused part of my time on launching our Strategic Accounts Project Management department. This is a team of world-class project managers that work with our customers on every aspect of their project, from pre-quote to post-sale. I've established policies and procedures and implemented new tools for the department.

What are some of your favorite Luminii products?

The Senso by Luminii Leto 11 Mini S with a semi-recessed canopy and cylinder driver housing is one of my favorite Luminii products because it provides for a simple and super clean installation. I also gravitate toward the VintageDim 2 because it gives specifiers a uniquely flexible set of warm dim and tunable white tools.

How would you describe the ultimate function of light?

The ultimate function of light is not something I would presume to define, but what excites me about our industry is the opportunity to participate in the continued uncovering of the myriad ways that light affects humans in the built environment.

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