People in Lighting: Luis Da Maia

Luis Da Maia - Supply Chain Manager and Site Manager - Comatelec Schréder
Luis Da Maia
Supply Chain Manager & Site Manager

Companies are defined by the people who work for them: for over a century, Schréder has been at the forefront of lighting thanks to its employees worldwide. Throughout 2022 we’ll be focusing on the people who make Schréder what it is, including their career path, landmark projects and their thoughts on where lighting is headed next.
 

France was the site of Schréder’s first expansion outside Belgium and is home to some of our most iconic projects. Back in the 1960s, we lit Orly airport. In the 1990s, we defined lighting trends through our work with Jean-Michel Wilmotte and lit up the Champs-Élysées. Our motorway and tunnel lighting keeps France open for business: we invented a whole new lighting system for the Channel Tunnel. We have also helped the city of Paris slash its energy use and the Ville Rose show its true colours after dark.

Now we’re taking things in a new direction and bringing French design flair to urban spaces of every size. Traditionally, only major cities could afford bespoke lighting, but after decades of engineering luminaires, we’ve developed new solutions which are affordable at every scale.

Overseeing the transition is Supply Chain Manager Luis da Maia, who manages our site in Saint-Florent-sur-Cher. Born in 1979 to Portuguese parents, he grew up in nearby Vichy and studied engineering before working for pan-European missile systems company MBDA. He joined Schréder five months ago.


I’ve always loved engineering…

I’ve always been fascinated by technology, creation, engineering and industrial design. I studied mechanical engineering and production in Montluçon, international business in Clermont-Ferrand and did an Erasmus year at Minho à Braga University in Portugal. 

I returned to studying in 2019 and got an MBA from IAE Paris-Sorbonne: when I started looking for a management role, it was natural that I leapt at the opportunity to join Comatelec Schréder. When I was young, my teachers often said I had my head in the clouds…. I realise now I must have been admiring all the fine lighting products Schréder had installed in Vichy!


And I came to Comatelec Schréder ready for a challenge…

As part of my studies, I spent time on the INSEEC campus in San Francisco, where I was really inspired by the “go big or go home” mindset, and the Silicon Valley attitude with its focus on progress and innovation. I’m bringing that to Schréder: the company has been transforming the Saint-Florent-sur-Cher site (where we manufactured the Channel Tunnel lighting) to reflect the shift in demand towards bespoke solutions - we are part of a tradition of French luxury goods, a kind of haute couture but for lighting.
 

I’m really excited about Schréder SIGNATURE, our bespoke service…

We’ve been transforming the way bespoke lighting is created, with innovative solutions for Lyon, Antwerp and Lisburn in Northern Ireland. Each project is completely unique and we create something - like a “light tree,” or a custom shade that makes an underground tunnel attractive for cyclists - that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Schréder SIGNATURE developed a bespoke lighting solution for Lyon Perrache which was rewarded the Janus Award

That can be a completely new product that enables placemaking, such as in Mannheim or a modification to our standard range, such as “masks,” which enable towns and cities to customise their installations. 


The mask opens up a world of possibilities…

So far, we’ve been producing masks for A-list destinations such as Cannes, the French Riviera and some of France’s Plus Beaux Villages have worked with us to create lighting that perfectly reflects their identity. That’s just the start for this new technology: luxury brands could have customised lighting for their shops and factories, sports clubs can have masks with their logo on… we’re working on a model where the mask can be changed by the customer so a city which hosts festivals, for example, could change the lighting during festival weeks.

Schréder SIGNATURE designed bespoke lighting to enhance the city of Canne's rich heritage


It’s a process of co-creation…

We have more and more requests from towns and cities that want to overhaul their lighting to save energy and improve safety, while also distinguishing themselves. Custom lighting means a unique design, more impact, more wow factor and also more sustainability. We’ve built a whole process to facilitate that: receiving the brief, checking out the technical feasibility with our colleagues at R-Tech in Belgium, building the proof of concept, then the prototype and going on-site to install it together and achieve what the customer - that customer - really wants. To use my favourite Steve Jobs quote, “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”


For customers in France and beyond…

Signature projects really reflect the diversity of the country. When we do road lighting projects, there’s national standards to comply with, there’s not much variation. When we do urban lighting, there’s a lot more potential. Our poles and luminaires are available in about 50 different colours - you see a green lighting installation in one village and then red in the next. Each commune has its own aesthetic. When it comes to expanding Schréder SIGNATURE abroad, “Made in France” is one of the biggest selling points in the world and we’re absolutely a part of that tradition, combining expertise with design flair.


It’s only been five months, but I feel at home…

I’ve been made to feel very welcome by the teams, despite the challenging circumstances. After a period of transition, I’ve seen people rise to the occasion: my colleagues feel that we’re making progress, and want to move forward. It’s been great to visit the headquarters in Liège, there’s a real energy there and it’s good to see the group getting behind the long-term future of the site by giving us new production projects. 


But there are still more changes to come…

We should be moving into a new building this year, which better suits the needs of the streamlined team. There’s a company-wide IT migration which will improve supply chain management, and cut completion time for projects. We’re integrating sustainability into everything we do, which is increasingly a priority for customers. 


And I still find time to let my hair down…

It’s wonderful to move back to the region where I grew up - the job is keeping me very busy but we’re also restoring our home. I love fixing, building, making, creating… but that doesn’t mean I’m calming down. Music has always been a passion; I love festivals (Glastonbury, Rock Werchter, Printemps de Bourges) and we’re lucky enough to have some great local venues, too. It’s always more interesting to see something creative, alternative and different than a big, slick production. I also love tattoos - but it’s the opposite of my passion for lighting, I keep them well hidden…
 

Connect with Luis on LinkedIn