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Lighting Research Center Industry Collaboration to Explore 3D Printing Solutions for Lighting Professionals

Header image of article about LRC collaboration on 3D printing for the Lighting Industry

How will 3D printing affect my business? This question is being asked by companies in several industries, especially those involved in the manufacturing process. A diverse group of companies came together last month to discuss and better understand the impact of 3D printing in the lighting industry. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is already being used in several industries to augment conventional manufacturing.

3D Printing – Understanding the Impact on Lighting

The discovery workshop, organized by the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer in partnership with Carbon Group Global, was designed to understand the impact of 3D printing across all areas of buildings and construction, and especially its impact on lighting. A group of industry leaders focused on how to best assimilate 3D printing with the lighting industry, the mutual benefits to all stakeholders, and the implications to and the impact on the existing ecosystem. The group will soon embark on developing an industry roadmap to make additive manufacturing a viable option for the lighting, building, and construction industries.

The Benefits of 3D Printing for Lighting Professionals

The potential benefits of 3D printing include the ability for manufacturers to create custom products that are uniquely designed for spaces to be illuminated. Fixtures could be printed on-site and on-demand, benefitting the user/customer, the manufacturer, and the local construction industry.

3D Printing for Solid-State Lighting. Images courtesy of LRC

3D Printing Individual Solid State Lighting Components

With 3D printing, the manufacture of individual lighting components, such as heat sinks, electrical traces, and led optics, could be customized, enabling the design of parts that cannot be manufactured today by traditional methods, improving both aesthetics and functionality.

Research is still needed to advance the integration of 3D printing into the lighting industry, beyond the current prototyping stage. To date, the Lighting Research Center has conducted initial investigations into the potential for printing thermal, electrical, and optical components.

100 Times Faster 3D Printing with Light

Image of 3D printing with light with logo of Michigan University on it

A new, unconventional approach by Michigan University to 3D printing creates stunning results in an up to 100 times faster 3D Printing process. The newly invented methodology was recently reveiled and rather than building up plastic filaments layer-by-layer, it lifts complex geometrical shapes from a bath of liquid resin at up to 100 times faster 3D printing than conventional printing processes do. Here are some deeper insights.

3D Printing: A Game-Changer for Manufacturing

3D printing could potentially change the game for relatively small manufacturing jobs, producing < 10,000 identical parts. It would mean that the objects could be made without the need for a mould tool, coming with a significant upfront investment. But the most familiar forms of 3D printing, which are sort of like building 3D objects with a series of 1D lines, hasn’t been able to fill that gap on typical production timescales of a week or two. Scaling towards larger volumes has only been possible by multiple printers in parallel, each of them duplicating the same approach, what is not very efficient.

Printed Optics by Luximprint rely on a digital fabrication process that can produce custom optics at speed. Image courtesy of Luximprint

Printing Optics at Speed

As far as we are aware, it’s been thus far only the process of 3D printing optics, that has basically evolved from UV-inkjet printing, that can produce parts at such high speed and has the potential to scale to larger manufacturing quantities. This process, however, is fully tailored for additive fabrication of custom optics and Optographix and does not offer commercial solutions for other markets, as far as we are aware.

The Michigan University Approach

The Michigan University method solidifies the liquid resin using two lights to control where the resin cures – and where it stays liquid. This enables the team to solidify the resin in more sophisticated patterns. They can make a 3D bas-relief in a single shot rather than in a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections.

By creating a relatively large region where no solidification occurs, thicker resins – potentially with strengthening powder additives – can be used to produce more durable objects. The method also bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers.

Image of Michigan University showing MI logo in semi-clear resin.
The ‘Michigan block ‘M’ – produced by the novel methodology to 3D print, developed at the Michigan University. Photo credits: Evan Dougherty/Michigan Engineering

An earlier solution to the solidification-on-window problem was a window that lets oxygen through. The oxygen penetrates into the resin and halts the solidification near the window, leaving a film of fluid that will allow the newly printed surface to be pulled away.

But because this gap is only about as thick as a piece of transparent tape, the resin must be very runny to flow fast enough into the tiny gap between the newly solidified object and the window as the part is pulled up. This has limited vat printing to small, customized products that will be treated relatively gently, such as dental devices and shoe insoles.

By replacing the oxygen with a second light to halt solidification, the Michigan team can produce a much larger gap between the object and the window – millimeters thick – allowing the resin to flow in thousands of times faster.

The Resin: Key to Success

The key to success is – like in many other (3D) printing processes, the chemistry of the resin. In conventional printing systems, there is generally only one material reaction. A photoactivator hardens the resin wherever light shines. In the newly invented Michigan system, there is also a photoinhibitor, which responds to a different wavelength of light.

Rather than merely controlling solidification in a 2D plane, as current vat-printing techniques do, the Michigan team can pattern the two kinds of light to harden the resin at essentially any 3D place near the illumination window.

Soon, a research paper describing this approach will be published in Science Advances, titled, “Rapid, continuous additive manufacturing by volumetric polymerization inhibition patterning.”

Final Thoughts

As described before, the process invented by Michigan University reminds us very much about the invention of ‘Printoptical Technology’ (3D printed optics) by Luxexcel back in 2009. We are greatly interested to learn whether this novel approach would bring new approaches and/or synergies to the table, especially related to applications in the Lighting Industry. In any case, we will be following the developments around the innovation with great interest!

Video and images courtesy of Evan Dougherty/Michigan Engineering. This post was kindly inspired by a previous publication from Michigan University.

LPS 2018 Launching Platform for Additive Fabrication of LED Optics

Image of LPS 2018 printed by Luximprint Optical Technology

LPS 2018 Celebrates the Launch of Additive Fabrication Services for Custom Optics by Luximprint

“Additive Manufacturing Services for Functional and Decorative Optical Plastics Empower New Lighting System Design and Development”

Luximprint, a Dutch multi-market service provider for 3D printed optics, chose the 2018 LED professional Symposium and Expo as the springboard to launch its novel fabrication services for decorative and optical 3D printed plastics. Light engineering and design professionals in need for fast, flexible and cost-effective optics solutions can now take benefit of the unique advantages Additive Optics Manufacturing technology offers for new lighting system design and development.

Image with banner 'Future of Light'
LPS 2018 and TIL 2018 – Tradeshow and Conference on the Future of Light

LPS 2018: Springboard to the European Lighting Industry

Choosing ‘LED professional Symposium + Expo’ along with the co-located ‘Trends in Lighting’ event as a launching platform has been a strategic decision for Luximprint. Among the European Lighting events, LPS and TIL take a leading position in bringing the latest strategies related to new technologies and digitization closer to market professionals. It provides both engineers and designers of lighting systems a unique platform for new fixture development.

“Presence of digital manufacturing technologies is key, as it significantly contributes to improved system engineering and finally a healthier industry”.

Additive Optics Fabrication

Printed optics has come a long way in the lighting industry. Additive Optics Fabrication, marketed over the recent years by Luximprint, is a future-proof methodology of rapid prototyping custom LED optics by means of digital fabrication technologies. Direct ‘CAD-to-Optic’ manufacture avoids costly and uncertain commitments related to conventional optics manufacturing processes in the early development stages, such as upfront tooling investments and minimum order quantities.

Printed Optics by Luximprint were introduced at LPS 2018 to an audience of lighting system designers and engineers.

Printed products find their way find their way in a variety of engineering and (temporary) project applications, such as general lighting, (light) art, event- and interior design. Luximprint solutions serve mainly inspirational and functional demonstration purposes, as well as mold-/concept validation and pre-series fabrication.

Optographix: Optical Translucency for Branding and Interior Design

In addition to functional optical plastics, so-called ‘Optographix’ – as the name suggests a unique combination of optical translucency and full-color graphical expressions – are initially proposed at this years’ events to trigger lighting and interior designers.

Image of Luximprint Optographix - hand held carnival artwork
A colorful piece of artwork by Luximprint. Optographix creates novel possibilities for light and interior designers.

Optographix – compromised by full-color patterns and optical translucency – add value to artistry and design of spaces and are set to be a next method of translating a corporate or brand image by using a unique combination of 3D printing, optics and light.

Design for Additive Optics Fabrication

Educated and trained by Luximprint, the Luximprint ‘Optics Design Hub’ includes a network of affiliated optics designers through which Luximprint facilitates its users in designing for additive manufacture. Among them is Physionary, a Netherlands based optics design collective.

Image of handheld printed optic by Luximprint demonstrating faceted lens technology
Faceted Lens Technology was one of the novelties Luximprint and Physionary introduced at LPS 2018.

Listed for the 2018 LPS / TIL Award, Physionary provides a new revolutionary methodology for designers with light, enabling them to ‘put light where needed’. Physionary ‘Faceted Lens Technology’ greatly combines with Luximprint Additive Optics Fabrication Services as tailored lenses now can be made in a fast, flexible and cost-effective way. Above all, it provides anyone involved in the design and application of lighting systems with new tools for a more efficient and responsible use of light.

Image of demodisplay by Luminous Concepts for Luximprint at LPS 2018
Dutch Creative Design Firm Luminous Concepts created a colorful display showcasing the impressive Optographix capabilities of Luximprint.

Luximprint shared a booth at LPS / TIL 2018 where it demonstrated its cooperative approach in additive optics design and manufacture for future lighting systems together with the team of Physionary. 

At 3DPrinting.Lighting, we’re watching both Luximprint and Physionary with great interest!

Philips Lighting Telecaster

Image of 3D printed lights collection by Philips Lighting at Euroshop Düsseldorf

Philips Lighting Telecaster: Philips New Venture for 3D Printed Architectural Lighting

Philips Lighting Telecaster is a new venture that is bringing the magic of 3D printing to architectural lighting. Initiated by Philips, the ‘print-on-demand’ technology and product configuration tools enable tailored custom lighting fixtures to be produced in new creative ways.

Philips Lighting Telecaster - a Philips initiative aiming to change the future of lighting fabrication

3D Printing by Philips Research

Telecaster is evolving from years of initial 3D printing exploration and development. Various digital manufacturing technologies were adopted and discovered by the Philips Research team in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Philips Research optimized various 3D-printing technologies that dramatically increase the speed and lower the cost of 3D printing, finally bringing it into the reach of their volume luminaire lines.


Picture of 3D printed eco downlight by Philips Lighting Telecaster

Exploring the Rich Possibilities of AM

Telecaster is a new internal venture team, that was tasked to commercialize those efforts and explore the rich possibilities inherent in digital additive manufacturing. Here, you can think of new 3D printing materials, different form factors, as well as  mass-customization services for tailored products.

To date, Philips has developed numerous styles of fixtures: 3D-printed decorative pendants, track spots, downlights and even large highbay fixtures.

Picture of 3D printed pendant lighting fixture by Philips Lighting Telecaster
High bay fixture as developed in the Philips Lighting Telecaster Program

Complex Shape Geometry in Volumes

Users are able to select from expressive geometric shapes and new materials textures to create combinations truly unique to any project. Unlike other 3D printing technologies, Philips Lighting Telecaster technology is ready for volume applications today.

The new series includes various downlights, pendants and projectors in a stylish performance.

Philips Lighting Telecaster Pilot Projects

Philips Lighting has piloted its various 3D printing technologies today in several real-world installations. Here are a few examples:

Setting the Pace for Future Lighting Design and Development

It seems, Philips finally found a way of adopting 3D printing technology to change and grow its future lighting business from the inside.

We’re watching the interesting developments closely, hopefully there’s more news to launch soon!

More information on the concept and availability at the Tailored Lighting Creations website.

3DCompare: Transparant 3D Printing Prices by Trusted Providers

Image for 3DPrinting.lighting including the 3DPCompare logo

3DCompare: Search Engine for the 3D Printing Industry

3DCompare launches the first professional comparison platform for 3D printing. Based in the UK, the portal matches companies in search for 3D printing solutions with verified, professional and established 3D printing service providers around the world. The Price Checker scans hundreds of 3D printing businessess and materials to help its users find the cheapest price for their prints.

3D Printing Market Development

Active in North America and Europe, 3DCompare is rapidly expanding these days into a global network. The growing demand for 3D printing asks for novel platforms and solutions to ease decision making of a broad offering. Experts estimate that, in 2020, the 3D market will grow to 28.9 billion US dollars, coming from a level of 13.2 billion in 2016. Industries such as automotive, architecture and dentistry have realised 3D printing potential for cheaper and better quality objects.

Image for 3DPrinting.Lighting featuring laptop with 3DCompare upload function and logos of various 3D Printing Industry Leaders
The 3DCompare database includes additive fabrication services of leading providers.

Leading Industry Players and Technologies

Current partners include industry leaders such as iMaterialise, Shapeways and Makexyz. 3DCompare users have immediate access to the latest range of additive manufacturing technology including Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and a wide array of metals, plastics, resins and ‘multi-colour’ materials.

Picture of 3DCompare workflow
3DCompare – methodology and features

Get your Best Available Offer!

The 3DCompare database helps to select the best possible service for its users’ needs. Whether they want to compare prices, find out the shortest lead times, discover the best 3D Printing Materials, or learn about the shipping costs related to a particular job, any of 3D printing service providers listed in the portal is readily available to serve.

The team of 3D Compare is continuously extending its database in order to get the best offering for their users’ project. We’ll be watching it closely and we are sure there will be more news to be announced in the time to come!

All of the Lights Installation by Budmen Industries


Illuminate your Imagination: 100 Unique 3D Printed Lamps Installation by Budmen Industries

‘All of the Lights’ by Budmen Industries is an immersive light installation including 100 unique 3D printed lamps. It acts as a unified display of individualism. The project represents a bright future where individuality is celebrated and reflected in environments that are as unique and complex as we, human beings, are.

Hand-crafted Digital Designs

The All of Lights installation redefines 21st century craft by combining art sculpture and digital fabrication. To attach a personal and human element to each of the designs, the designers decided to digitally sculpt each lamp shade by hand.

Image of All of Lights installation by Budmen Industries with individually crafted lamps
During the process, a variety of form families appeared while the personality of each lamp remained unique.

Following the designers’ unique approach, a great variety of different shades was created, each reflecting unique personalities. Some were symmetrical and had a pure geometrical appearance, while others were more gestural, feeling like captured motion. Or they were swirled and stretched into splendid spirals.

3D Printing Large Luminous Layers

In fact, 3D printers can build hundreds of identical objects but their real strength is in making hundreds of different objects at no extra cost. 3D printing is a shift from a world full of mass manufactured products to one where each item can be a unique reflection of our individuality (called ‘mass customization‘)

Image of Large Luminous Layers by Budmen Industries, straight from the Budmen Builder 3D Printer
Large Luminous Layers

A 3D printer creates objects layerwise. This process of stacking layers produces surfaces with striations similar to those seen on rock formations and tree bark. Printing with thick layers produces even more dramatic striations.

Image of the Budmen builder - the 3D printer used to create the lamps for the All of Lights project
The Budmen Builder

Illuminated Layers as Project Signature

Where for some applications the layering might be a limitation, the Budmen designers decided to see and use it as an charismatic feature of the process. The uniquely layered aesthetic is not only a process signature, but the object takes on an entirely new character when illuminated.

The Brains behind Budmen Industries

Budmen Industries was founded by Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe. Budmen is an artist, designer and ‘lifelong inventor’ as he describes himself. His creative work exploring digital fabrication has been featured at leading museums and other venues.

Picture of Budmen Industries founders for 3DPrinting.Lighting showing their All of Lights Installation.
Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe, founders of Budmen Industries, celebrating their work.

Stephanie is an artist as well, pastry chef, and photographer. Her photographs have been exhibited and sold in NYC and Chicago. Together, they created Budmen Industries.

Image at 3DPrinting.Lighting from of All of the Light Books by Budmen Industries.
All of the Light Project books – available for pre-ordering!

To celebrate the ‘All of the Lights’ project, Budmen released a special book on the immersive installation. Pre-order books are available for a special early-bird price, personalized and signed by the artists. Books will be shipped February 2018.

Pictures in this post were sourced from the Budman website.

Repro-Light: Would the Luminaire of the Future be fully 3D Printed?

Image of Repro-light for the 3DPrinting.Lightig blog

Repro-light Consortium aims to Revolutionize the Lighting Industry by 2020

As part of the Horizon 2020 programme, an European project for re-usable and re-configurable parts for sustainable LED based systems was initiated by lighting industry leaders. Named ‘Repro-light’, it aspires to successfully initiate a transformation in the European lighting industry, with the ultimate aim of creating the ‘Luminaire of the Future’. We thought it would be good to write a brief update on it, as it will significantly affect our future and inspire our readers!

Innovative Technologies and Materials

The Repro-light project harnesses innovative technologies and materials and aim to implement modular luminaire architecture as never attempted before. Called the ‘Luminaire of the Future’, it will include a smart production scheme and the development of a reconfigurable easily customizable LED luminaire.

Image projecting the Luminaire of the Future by Repro-light for 3DPrinting.Lighting

Market Focus: From Energy into Function

The Repro-light project is perfectly timed to capitalize and lead this transformation. It is set to change the reputation of the LED luminaire from a disposable object, into a customizable and sustainable product, with a high function value. The LED market is currently mid-transformation, shifting its focus from energy efficiency to function values, therefore the timing of the project is perfect!

Consortium of EU Lighting Experts

Led by representatives and driving forces from the European lighting industry, as well as manufacturers, experts on lighting sustainability and the Social Sciences, the Repro-light consortium possesses the excellence and the influence to not only execute this project successfully, but also invoke a sustainable change in the European lighting industry beyond the lifetime of the project.

OEMs – Innovation leaders – Universities

The need for projects like Repro-light has been highlighted over the last years by leading lighting experts and institutions. Now, some of these thought-leaders join forces in the Repro-consortium. It includes several leading European manufacturers such as TRILUX, BJB, Ground Zero, and Rohner Engineering.

Image by 3DPrinting.Lighting including the logo's of the partner organizations joining forces in Repro-light
The Consortium is compromised of EU Lighting Industry Leaders and Institutions.

In addition, it contains remarkable innovative members of the lighting industry as Bartenbach and Luger Research, as well as experts on lighting sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment IREC and Mondragon University who are prominent in Social Sciences.

Market Needs and Requirements

The project’s first phase is underway. This initial phase of work will focus on analysing the customer needs and technical requirements. This information is vital for the following project stages, the initial phases finishing by March 2018.

Project Updates: Stay Tuned!

To receive updates on the project progress, to receive additional information about Repro-light or to learn about its partners, please visit the website.

We at 3DPrinting.Lighting strongly believe there is no future for the lighting industry without incorporating 3D printing in product design, development and operations, so we’ll be following the project updates with great interest and inform you once interesting developments come to pass. Stay tuned!

Gantri – Inspired 3D Printed Table Lights

Picture of Gantri 3D printed table lights

Gantri: Empowering Human Creativity

3D printing has changed how products are prototyped. With Gantri, it’s changing how products are made. The unique Gantri 3D printing process combines the simplicity and flexibility of desktop 3D printing with the quality and craftsmanship of industrial manufacturing. It allows designers worldwide to easily bring quality products to market at a fraction of the time and cost.

Picture of various Gantri table lights by designers from around the globe

Gantri: Simplicity and Efficiency in Design and Fabrication

Gantri aims to break down the barriers in traditional ways of manufacturing and selling. Simplicity and efficiency are key in their designer approach. By promoting inspired design rather than a specific aesthetic, design becomes relevant to everydays life.

“Gantri helps independant designers to create inspired, high-quality lighting products and make them accessible and attainable for all”

Innovative Materials and Processess

Working with the best material innovators from around the world, we offer corn-based materials that are environmentally friendly, purposeful and durable. The in-depth knowledge of 3D printing allows designers to create optimized 3D models and achieve higher quality prints straight off the printers.

Picture of Gantri process and materials

Every part is hand-finished and foreseen with a protective coating to achieve a perfect finish that feels comparable to traditional luxury products.

Bring your Concepts to Life

Gantri welcomes talented designers regardless of location or academic degree. Any independent designer around the globe can become a member of the Gantri Community to create his own products and brand.

Picture of Gantri Designer Concepts

Please refer to the Gantri shop to source your own table lights, created by independent designers worldwide. All products are made in California.

3D Printed Trees Art by Se Yoon Park

Picture of 3D printed trees by Se Yoon Park

Korean Architect Creates stunning 3D Printed Trees for Temporary Art Installation

With a background in architecture, Korean designer Se Yoon Park recently created a stunning piece of art including 3D printed trees. Contrasting influences his former rural life, made him develop an interest in issues such as light, darkness, time, and life. Experimenting with gradient light and its consequent shadows, Se Yoon arrived at this particular form for his 3D printed trees, where the play of light produces ever-changing effects.

Light, Darkness and the Tree

The project ‘Light, Darkness and the Tree’ is the result of the contemplation of the words that Park takes most seriously: light, darkness, time, and life. His work explores the transitions between light and darkness, and in his sculptures, he seeks to contain both light and darkness within an exterior, a single object. His creature consists of many smaller geometric elements and imitates the organic structure of a tree.

From ‘Concept’ to ‘Design’ to ‘Reality’

The initial design stage knew multiple media, from hand-written sketches, to handmade models, to digital 3D models in Rhino. All the parts were designed in Rhino for production on a 3D printer. The biggest challenge has been error control in retaining an accuracy in shape that was essential for the structural integrity of the overall artwork.

Advantages of 3D Printing Technology

Compared to traditional methods where material is casted away, the additive 3D printing process allows being more accurate, and it is free from shrinking issues. Moreover, it provides to work with multiple design materials and bring them together in one build.

Also, a the combination of traditional fabrication methods and 3D printing technologies might be a way forward. 3D printing is a very helpful way to rapidly turn ideas into reality, while the more mature conventional technologies can turn them into real production items.

Picture showing the 3D printed trees of Se Yoon Park in Rhoni 3D Software
Se Yoon Park used Rino 3D Software to create all of his light tree models.

Light and Darkness in a Sculpture

Se Yoon chose Polyamide material for his creature due to its strength, lightness, and porosity, which allowed him to structurally employ the 3D printed parts in his sculptures. It also gave him the flexibility of dyeing the pieces to explore a variety of artistic surface treatments. The translucency of Polyamide also allowed him to play with an electrical light inside his sculptures, creating the effect of a soft glow.

Picture showing Se Yoon Park in his workplace.
The creative work space of Se Yoon Park.

3D Printed Trees – The Making Of: Polyamide Materials and SLS 3D Printing

Polyamide is 3D print material that is used in combination with a process named Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). Laser Sintering 3D printers do not use a filament, as many DIY printers do. On the contrary, a very fine, granular nylon powder is heated and sintered by a laser beam within the 3D printer to create the parts.

This post was inspired by an earlier post of i.materialise, pictures are property of Se Yoon Park.

Electric Light Shoe: A Dreamlike Sculpture Universe

Picture with side view of Janne Kyttanen's Electric Light Shoe

Award Winning Centerpiece Electric Light Shoe by Janne Kyttanen merges Japanese Culture Icons

The Electric Light Shoe is a 70 centimeters tall sculpture containing a dream-like universe. The artwork features a kaleidoscope of Japanese cultural icons and was designed and fabricated back in 2008 already by designer and artist Janne Kyttanen. The illuminated shoe was created as the centrepiece of the award winning Onitsuka Tiger global Electric Tiger Land campaign.

Picture of Electric Light Shoe - Janne Kyttanens' ode to the Onitsuka Tiger Award

Electric Light Shoe: A Living Glowing Sculpture

The super detailed structure is laced with an LED lighting system that glows and pulses, bringing the sculpture to life. There are only one eight sculptures available in this super limited edition collection, plus two artist proofs.

The Onitsuka Tiger – Symbol for Streets and Highways

The characteristic Onitsuka Tiger stripes represents a system of highways and streets. Illuminated signs crowd the front of the shoe and a monster-like figure looms over buildings at the shoe’s opening.

The fine details were achieved with rapid prototyping, the process that enables a digital CAD file to be transformed quickly into a solid object, mostly by means of additive manufacturing technologies.

Picture of Electric Light Shoe by Janne Kyttanen


Revolutionary Work in 3D Printing

Janne Kyttanen is a pioneering digital sculptor creating multidisciplinary work at the intersection of 3D printing, virtual reality and augmented reality. His work has been featured in TIME Magazine’s ‘Design 100’, the people and ideas behind the world’s most influential design. Kyttanen is best known for his revolutionary work with 3D printing and is considered to be one of the most influential designers of his generation.

More availability and purchase info is available on the designers’ website.