Every designer has instances where they want to see a special idea or concept realized to fill a small, but essential need or want, but cannot find a path to see it realized. I know this, as I was a designer that started making things for my own projects to fill this need – which led to the formation of Lumenique.

Custom Frame Mount LED Picture Light

The need for something special may be as simple as a small iconic accent applied to a wall or door, a corporate image piece, a center piece at a corporate entry desk or conference table, a side table or dining table light that functions as accent source of illumination while making an artistic design statement. These are the inspired details that add nuance and depth, that makes a design pop – but are too frequently set aside for want of a source to make them real.

In the regular modern market driven to profit from volume sales, there are few resources for seeing specialty requests satisfied. Virtually no interest exists for one item order with high levels of design or artistic involvement. Engineers don’t do art. Manufacturers don’t do one-off. Artists don’t execute on others inspiration. Lumenique, does all of these, it is in its DNA. I am also a lighting professional, so when the idea involved includes light, I can offer more than those who have no technical background.

One-off Trade Show Kiosk Light

Lumenique is a unique entity that offers both artistic creations of its own that can be modified, customized and adjusted to suit virtually any desire – and bespoke commissioned creations that follow the inspiration and vision of customers. As an artist, I create on my own, and have the facilities to see my own ideas realized. As a veteran of product design, I know how to satisfy the needs of customers, to see their own ideas realized. The combination of these can be magic.

Lumenique offers a pathway for designers, discerning homeowners, and businesses to see their most unique inspirations and ideas realized. I love the collaboration and want to see your visions realized.  I enjoy making ideas real as much as our customers enjoy receiving them.

Custom Side Table Reading Lamp Companion to Ekornes Stressless Chair.

Lumenique utilizes 3D Printing, hand machining, fabrication, and numerous hand-work methods to transform ideas into real, tangible works of bespoke functional art, lighted and unlighted, with special character and of high quality.

The Process

My process for special requests and commissions are transparent and simple:

  1. Share your idea, whether it is a mod of one of my own creations, or something completely new. I keep your request and any shared design details completely confidential.
  2. I will evaluate how I might achieve the desired result, and will provide my initial thoughts, and ask questions, until everyone agrees on what the objective is (concept through estimated costs).
  3. Assuming agreement in step 2., I provide a formal quote with supporting 3D rendered sketch and outline specification. All terms will be included, as discussed in step 1 and 2, including an estimated or fixed delivery time as requested.
  4. Upon formal approval to proceed (as agreed to and outlined, which may include a deposit to cover up-front costs) I provide a final completion date and proceed with the work defined. On larger commissions, I will send progress messages with images, to demonstrate how the project is progressing, so you know that it is on track.
  5. I complete the work, test, pack, and ship it, per agreement.
  6. I follow up and make sure everyone is satisfied, and support what I deliver to ensure that satisfaction is lasting.
Your Ideas are Yours – I Respect That

I do not use customer ideas in my own work creations. The idea remains yours exclusively – unless we agree otherwise up front. I do not submit your ideas or the products completed for awards, publish, or expose the finished work to the public – without explicit written approval of my customers. If you are satisfied with the result, please refer me to others, the exposure is yours to control.

We all have ideas. Getting them into tangible form is where I can help.
Cost Expectations

What might this cost? While it is impossible to say without details, our typical project works range from as little as $650 for a small-scale piece, to as much as $35,000+ for large, or technically complex works taking many weeks to complete. We can break the costs down into services, raw costs, and delivered product if requested or offer a single price for a completed work. If you have a specific budget in mind, share it with us, and we will create a proposal within that budget.

My Limitations are Transparent – I am not interested in “anything for a buck” sales aggression

Will I do everything, and anything asked of us? In a word – no. I will be honest and open about what we can and cannot do with the facilities and resources we have in hand. I have no desire to use our customers as experiments or to take a sale on a hope we can make it happen. When we make commitments to satisfy a need, we do so with the knowledge that we are confident, capable, skilled, and equipped to see that request through to a highly satisfying experience for all involved.

Your Vision Realized

Every designer has instances where they want to see a special idea or concept realized but cannot find a path to see it realized. Until now. Lumenique was formed to satisfy this need, with the eye of an artist and the soul of a designer – who knows what it is like to see special ideas come to life, every day of the week.

Art is about combining materials and technology in a way that creates objects that reflect a vision or an idea. In some instances, artists find it necessary to innovate their own technology, or to apply one in a way unintended by the originator in order to achieve the end result they desire. Art is about experimentation and tinkering.

In my previous lives, I have done this many times – from using lithography films loaded into a 35mm camera for extremely long exposures for motion capture, to soldering house wiring together with a motorcycle fog lamp to make a sculpture.

This image (1978) was taken using 25ASA high contrast lithograph film cut and modified to work in a 35mm camera to facilitate extreme exposure times in full sunlight conditions.
This small light (1987) was made from copper house wire, plumbing solder, and a PAR36 motorcycle fog lamp.

Artistic inspiration is generally not bound by the physical reality it springs from. In many cases, it is impossible to create what the imagination or an idea brings forth. Yet, an artist that has become too involved in the workings and machinations of creation, often find themselves lost and frustrated. For these reasons, there is always a level of compromise. Available resources, time, and skill set combine to shape the universe within which an artist creates. Some of these limitations are by choice – as is the case for those who choose only to paint, or sculpt in clay – others are just the limitations of the real world.

Light Source Selection

I have been in lighting for 40 years, from virtually every angle – including design of lighting in spaces, design of products for manufacture, use of light to cure resins or disinfect water, and in artwork. I see light in things, in spaces, and in the world – it’s now just a part of what I see.

In my various artistic creations, I have used the light sources that attract me the most based on their quality of light, ease of use, and form factor. In the past, this has included PAR lamps, MR16, MR11, halogen lamps of every shape, LED retrofit lamps, LED light engines, COB LEDs, and star board LEDs dating back to the Luxeon K2 LED and Lamina BL3000. When you are a lighting addict, you can’t help but play with the technology.

From the beginning, I found that low voltage sources were preferable for the intimate scale portable lights I enjoy making. 12V through 48V is inherently safe, so exposed wires are not an issue. However, when LEDs arrived on the scene, the need for drivers, series/parallel circuiting, heat sinks, and the often messy wiring of controls to provide some level of dimming, all created challenges that caused me to spend more time working around the light source support gear than creating the design itself.

My first LED sculpture (2004) included Nichia LEDs on custom circuit boards, a machined heat sink, and two drivers, put together with the help of a college (Don Brandt). While the end result was acceptable, the process for its creation was not sustainable or inspiring.

Later work (2010) embraced the need for thermal management (to support COB LEDs) into the design itself was satisfying, but somewhat limiting. I found myself constantly design artistic heat sinks and LED surrounds, as priority over other real vision of what I wanted to produce.

LEDs have another liability when it comes to sculptural work. They are developed to serve general illumination, in products of greater scale, and located at a larger distance from the occupant than what I need for the work I do. The optics available are rarely useable, the process of creating custom optics, diffusers, and required light modifying features is too involved for one-off pieces that are never to be tooled for production. Most LEDs are not suitable for direct view, and the necessary steps for integrating lower power discrete LEDs populated on circuit boards, with matching drivers, etc. of low enough current to realize the light levels needed in small objects, that have dimming capability, has been a frustration for 15 years. My intent is not to be a lighting fixture manufacturer, I just want to make artwork that is lighted. There is a big difference. One (product manufacture) is supported by the electronics industry well, the other (artistic use of LED) is not even recognized – for obvious reasons.

In 2020, when I contemplated returning to my real passion for lighted object creation with Lumenique, I decided the first thing that needed to be resolved was the light source issue. I contemplated returning to my roots in low voltage halogen, a source that has always been easy to work with. However, that source has serious issues of its own, in both heat and need for lamp replacement, that is almost as limiting and problematic as LEDs. I needed to find a better source, or I was facing real issues in realizing my vision.

OLEDs Fit

I was aware of OLED technology and had experimented with it on several occasions. My personal work space at my Lumenique office was lighted with OLEDs. There are three primary attributes to OLED that make it a great choice for intimate scale lighted objects.

The first attribute is light quality. OLED delivers excellent color qualities. In 3000K the color is very close to halogen lighting, and when dimmed, has a natural tendency to become warmer. OLED technology does not have the liability of blue light production and red light deficit of conventional LED technology, so the light quality feels less artificial.

The second attribute of OLED, is the diffuse surface illuminance, with no need for additional optic, diffuser, space between LED and optic, edge light configuration, or films and overlays to achieve uniformity. While a COB LED with an LES of .50″ might be throttled down to just 200 lumens, the brightness is distributed over just .2 square inches, for a luminous brightness of 1,000 lumens per square inch. That’s too bright to view directly. Conversely, an OLED panel with a luminous surface 4″ x 4″, or 16 square inches, delivering 200 lumens, presents a luminous brightness of just 12.5 lumens per square inch. Comfortable. This luminous brightness is also perfectly uniform, with no dots or issues of uniformity.

The third attribute of OLED, is the very simply light source packaging. The panels are just 0.09″ thick, or about the thickness of two quarters, require no heat sink, have integrated wiring, and are faced with soft etched hard glass. With OLEDWorks OLEDs, I have a choice between 4.75″ round, 5.25″ square, and 2.75 x 9.75 rectangles, in simple panels that generate almost no heat. I also purchase from them a matched driver, that is extremely compact, readily programmed for various outputs, and dimmable. This is literally the simplest light source form factor I have used in the last 20 years.

Since most of my work is architecturally or mechanically inspired, the form factors and luminous qualities of the OLED panels are a great fit to the shapes I create.

The assortment of sizes and shapes, and luminous qualities of the panels affords me the latitude I need to create, without spending all of my time working on drivers, heat sinks, LED arrays, diffusers, etc… The OLED panels fit scales from small to very large. Note that this sneak preview is 5 of 16 pieces being completed now for launch soon.

This is all just getting started, with 16 works in process of completion to be released very soon. I have been experimenting with the scale of end product I can build, from minimal to very large. I find that the versatility of the light sources causes me less of an issue than the surrounding 3D printed components, which are made from many parts bonded, and finished to create the end product. OLEDs are providing me a versatile light source that is tunable to the output I need, with minimal hassle. This is exactly what I needed.

I also believe that there is a significant opportunity for doing commissioned work to suit specific requests, as the technique I am using to make these lighted objects is capable of producing almost anything. Further, combining 3D Printing with more conventional machining and fabrication, means the potential for creating is wide open.

There will also be opportunities for combining conventional LED technology with OLEDs to produce unique effects, where the two technologies compliment one another.

So, why would an artist choose OLED? The answer for me is quite simple. Because it works so well.

A Final Note

Look, I get that I am not the typical artist. My approach is perhaps too technical for the art scene, and too niche for the commodity lighting business. As many now advise, I am following my passion. This puts me in a unique middle universe between art and product design. In my many years on this spinning little ball we call earth, I cannot discard what I have been, nor is there peace without satisfying the need to create.

I also like things close-in and down to earth. My preference is for simple living and conservation through re-use, over high style, exploitation and conspicuous consumption.

I’d like to be thought of as a “new-age folk art sculptor of lighted objects”. While traditional folk art uses found objects, nails, rust and paint, I use 3D Printing, manual machining, hand finishing, and light.

My ultimate goal is to discover and grow an audience (and patronage) who appreciate this approach and enjoy the product of my existence on the border between left-brain analytical and right-brain artist – where I both suffer the conflict and am energized by it.

If you are someone this is interesting to, or know someone who might be, please reach out.

The Lumenique Story

Posted: June 8, 2021 in Uncategorized
In the Beginning

Emerging from a humble start in Boise, Idaho as a drafter/designer, then forged in the heat of Las Vegas, the burning excitement for lighting led to the creation of Kevin L. Willmorth, Lighting Design Consultant, the birthplace of Lumenique. The setting was a second floor industrial office space leased from John Renton Young, a lighting entrepreneur. Sharing our building: An Interior Designer; a Boutique Lighting Rep Agency, and a fledgling specialty color filter coating company.

The firm provided lighting design for the Mirage Hotel, casinos, retail stores, golf courses, resorts, and roughly 40 large custom homes every year. To keep up, my partner (and wife, Angie), and one drafter, worked long hours, seven days of the week, frequently through the night, to meet deadlines. All of our customers were demanding, and we met their challenges through every means at our disposal – which included finding luminaires for special spaces that were exemplary and unique.

We sourced products from Italy and Spain, antiques from San Francisco, and customs made from a variety of sources, including Winona Lighting. However, contractors and distributors were ill prepared to support the frequently strange sources of products we came up with. The time we were spending fixing problems consumed precious time we just did not have, and produced less that desirable results. There had to be a better way.

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Art vs. Design

Art is not media bound. It matters not whether a creation comes from spray cans, found objects, sculpted from clay, chipped out of marble, or painted with secret formula pigments. Art is the transformation of a thought or individual vision, expressed in forms to be experienced by others. Some art is intentionally fleeting, to be experienced in the moment that is lost to time. Other forms are permanent, to transcend the ages. Some art is heavily contextual, some dated, and some transcendent, changing in meaning and perceived value over time. It is all art. It is all creative expression.

Every stage of human artistic development has been boosted by the simultaneous development of enabling technology. In some cases, the artist themselves were the innovators, in others, artists are the benefactors of technology that emerged for other purposes. Early painters utilized paints of their own creation, where modern artists utilize a plethora of manufactured medium with which to express themselves. The art is not diminished, and the ability to create is enhanced by this transformation. Early sculptors chipped away at marble they sourced from quarries engaged in building architecture, or shaped clay taken from river beds or headed to brick factories, or cast bronze from the same processes and materials used for architectural metalwork. Today, sculpting comes in every imaginable form, using materials and technologies from the past, the present, and in the case of some, the near future. The introduction of the computer has opened doors into new realm of art – including digital works that exist only as data and projected pixels, art headed to any number of printing processes, and now three dimensional art directly from data using 3D printers.

There is differentiation between art and design. Design – whether it be Graphic or Industrial – is creative and artistic, but has a purpose, a determined value to be delivered. In this, Design seeks to first identify the need of the viewer (read “customer”) community, then deploy an end product to satisfy the intended number of viewers in a way that produces a commercial sales result. In this, the Viewer is the priority in which the Designer intends to serve. The Designer focuses every effort on the attempt to produce a clear understanding of the product created, in order to produce the most universal acceptance by the target audience (read “Customer”.)

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The following is the step by step process I use to develop a design or artistic idea into three dimensional reality using modern tools and technology. The images are from a current project just completed, and are not retouched, so you can see the raw process as it progressed.

Creative Process – In the virtual universe
Building the Model
While we once used pens and pencils to create drawings, when the end product is to be produced directly as a 3D assembly, creating designs within solid-model CAD software is a more direct, and more satisfying process. In my case, all sculptures and designs are created in SolidWorks. This includes all components to be utilized, to insure the final product will fit together. This is a highly iterative process, that may entail dozens of attempts and variations, as the design matures and evolves.
At various stages in the process, the model assembly or its parts are rendered to see how they might appear when completed. This affords me insight into proportion, and general appearance that the CAD software is lacking.
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Additive manufacturing – AKA 3D Printing – comes in several forms that produce various degrees of detail and part integrity. For most of us, the go-to process is FDM, which generates strong plastic parts at a reasonable cost, using a wide range of polymers to suit many needs.

An early part created using FDM Printing, with minimal post-print processing or smoothing.

FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling, also known and MLE (Material Layer Extrusion) – is a process in which a filament of plastic is heated and extruded, tracing the part and its interior, layer by layer. This is the most common process for making strong end-use parts, made from a wide range of materials. FDM printing is also very cost effective, using affordable equipment. Can produce crude optical diffusers, but unsuited to optical forms.

For art produced by the author at Lumenique, we employ a Stratasys F370 Professional grade high performance FDM 3D printer that can print a wide range of plastics. The F370 is a highly reliable printer, that can generate parts that take many days to produce, without failures or quality issues. There are many lower cost machines on the market, but they are not capable of reliably printing large, high quality parts runs without failing. We regularly print jobs that take more than 60 hours, that consume 75 cubic inches of material. We invest in the equipment needed to support this. Our previous Stratasys printer generated over 900 print jobs, with just 2 print failures in the 9 years we had it in operation.

The Stratasys F370 Printer is an industry leading, high reliability, commercial/industrial grade machine with 4 material bays and a heated build environment.
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After several decades involvement in product design and development, I’ve accumulated a few basic ideas I believe are useful for small product manufacturer businesses looking to build NPD into a driver for future growth. I pulled together 33 thoughts, updated and collected into a small book for anyone interested. Each topic is described in less than 400 words to provide the reader insight without getting too deep into the academics of each one.

You can download a copy for your use below:

After discussing the topic of recruitment and HR manager behaviors with several contemporaries, I found a few interesting common themes.

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In coming weeks, I will be rolling out my the latest creations through Lumenique. The following is an insight into what is to come, and its origins. As I get closer to a full launch, I will issue updates and further insights. I am excited at this new phase of Lumenique’s existence. What is coming is closer to my core passions and intent for the company, now studio, than it has ever been.

Background
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Just ran an interesting analysis of social media connections and found an aberration I would like to understand.

Of all invitations and connections requests sent, I find that Lighting Designers specifically stand out as a group that does not respond or accept – more than any other.

I find this truly strange for several reasons.

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