If you’re familiar with textiles and design, you’ve probably heard of screen-printing, digital printing, and maybe even sublimation. All three are printing technologies used to create pretty patterns and pictures on fabric. But I would bet the Eames chair and ottoman I’m saving up for, that you don’t know about the Lumi Process.
It’s a cutting edge process that allows photographic images to be printed onto natural materials, from silk to wool to cotton, without any chemical treatment. Jesse Genet, who began her research five years ago when she was in high school, is the brain (and brawn) behind the new technology. Now she’s a student at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and has teamed up with fellow student and designer, Stephan Angoulvant, to launch Lumi Co.
They’re young, energetic and with a clever self-promotional video, funded the launch of their business with money raised on Kickstarter. It took them only 60 days to raise more than $13,500. They initially aimed for $12,000,
“…the minimum amount of capital needed to allow us to continue R&D, upgrade our equipment for production, and have enough working capital to develop products and open our doors to collaborators in the first quarter of 2010.”
To everyone who donated, Genet and Angoulvant sent out a leather bag, art print, card wallet or coasters (image below), each printed with images using their technology. It got people talking, about the product and the process, and the talk has been nothing but positive.
Genet and Angoulvant, on the other hand, are not talking about the specifics of their technology, other than to say it is eco-friendly and will provide access to innovative products and designs in the future. The Lumi Process doesn’t require intense heat or the use of harsh chemicals. It doesn’t use filters or half-toning; the final images are vivid, true to the original, durable and won’t fade with washings. All their supplies and materials are natural. And the process prints perfectly on textured materials and over seams. Is there anything it doesn’t do?
Actually, no. And now Lumi Co. is collaborating with Cisco Home, a Los Angeles sustainable furniture company, and launching its first product line in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. The owner of Cisco Home, Cisco Pinedo, who’s been in the furniture business for over 20 years, had this to say about the Lumi Process:
“The conventional printing methods don’t have the properties of natural materials…this is an amazing technique, especially for a company like ours where everything we do is around sustainability.”
It’s quite the entrepreneurial, environmental success story. And it’s not over yet.