August 1, 2004
Let it Glow
Woven with fiber optics, Luminex illuminated textiles really shine.
Luminex textiles—which glow with an otherworldly radiance—are the result of a collaboration between Italian high-tech electronics manufacturer CAEN and Swiss company Sta-bio Textile. The self-illuminating fabric weaves tiny flexible optical fibers originally developed for medical applications into ordinary fabrics like polyester and Lycra. The light is generated safely by high-efficiency LEDs at very low voltages, powered by a small rechargeable cell-phone battery. The almost random sparkling effect is achieved by etching or breaking the fibers along their length to let tiny points of light escape.
Luminex’s United States debut was in the illuminated costumes for the Washington Opera’s production of Verdi’s Aida last year. It has since been used in applications ranging from jackets, bridal gowns, and club wear to tablecloths, chair covers, and curtains. The Rockwell Group recently used the material for a sculptural installation in New York’s Washington Square, and in a new restaurant in Philadelphia.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from the architecture and design community, and there are a number of very large-scale projects that are a few years from being completed,” explains Christopher Berger, business development director at Zuzka, the exclusive distributor and product developer for Luminex in the United States and Canada. The company is already at work prototyping the next generation of the fabric, which will have a silicone layer. “We’re finding that giving it a coating of silicone adds to its brightness, and makes the product more supple and pliable,” Berger explains.
Luminex: Light-emitting Textile
A light-emitting fabric woven with plastic fiber optics. Power comes from a rechargeable cell-phone battery or AC adapter plugged into the wall.
Clothing, stage costumes, handbags, home accessories, curtains, interior architectural and theatrical installations.
Gives off its own light in five different LED colors (white, blue, red, green, and yellow); does not heat up; is nonreflective, lightweight, and pliable.
North American Distributor:
37 East 18th Street, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10003