The Lumi Process: Photographic Printing on Natural Materials

Here’s a 1 minute video I did the creative direction for, that quickly explains the process:


Though I’m not the most frequent poster, I’ve been involved in the Core 77 community for a while. From when I first discovered I wanted to be a designer, through my years at Art Center sharing work with other design students.

This is why I’m so excited to share a project I’ve been working on for about 3 years. It’s a printing technology that uses a light-sensitive dye to create permanent designs on natural materials. The dyes can be used to create photographic prints on cotton, linen, leather, suede, wood, and other absorbent natural fibers:



As an industrial designer, I find this tool invaluable because it expands the range of what can be done with sustainable materials. For example, I designed the Dexter work sled for car enthusiasts (on the Core77 blog last year) using raw materials, mainly plywood, steel and leather. The head rest was actually one of the very first leather prints done with the Lumi Process while we were still developing the technology.

There’s no other technique in the world that would have allowed me to quickly print on leather without affecting the texture of the material.

At the moment we’re running a Kickstarter campaign to make these new tools available to designers and makers everywhere. We’ve even created an iPhone app that helps quickly turn pictures into negatives. Although as designers you may prefer to use Photoshop for more control.

Hey kepano

Glad to see the lumi project is still going strong! I was excited when I saw your first campaign 2 years ago. I love the 1 minute video, the editing is spot on and pacing and music selection is perfect. Did you guys do it yourselves?

Good luck with the campaign.

Thanks choto. The video was a collaboration with our neighbors at Sandwich Video. We came up with the idea, picked the music and some of the visual elements. They shot, directed and edited it. It was a lot of fun to make!

Great campaign, I was wondering when I’d hear more from you about this project. I stumbled across your blog years ago while in school and have followed along since. Great work and this is no exception. I’m curious as to what the process was like for you after you had the project initially funded. It would be cool to hear more about that.

I’m thinking of picking up a kit to mess around with and experiment.

Originally we started developing printing techniques for our own use. We had been experimenting with the idea of photographic prints on leather, wood, linen, etc, throughout the first year of development. The first Kickstarter project we ran allowed us to fund research on these printing experiments. Soon after that Kickstarter campaign ended we had garnered interest from a number of companies that wanted to use the process. We started working with a local furniture maker to create pieces that that pushed the boundaries of what our process could do.

During this time we kept the process itself a secret, selling only finished pieces until we had secured the IP and refined the technique. After about 1 year of producing finished pieces we realized this process was simply too interesting and fun to keep it to ourselves. So we turned Lumi inside out and are now focused on providing the tools for people to design their own prints. We continue to do in-house design work with the process, and have been teaming up with companies to create finished products and manufacturing processes.