When attending large conventions such as Lightfair International (LFI), attendees expect to see industry experts with decades of experience. It is less expected to meet a college junior, as 2017 LFI attendees did in Philadelphia in May. There, Peter Nasielski presented three of his luminaires—the winning designs in an annual LED design competition held at the University of California, Davis, Department of Design, and sponsored this year by LEDVANCE.

The 10-week competition challenged Nasielski and the rest of his undergraduate lighting design class to create a luminaire for pathway lighting applications using LEDVANCE’s Sylvania LED MR16 lamps, which the company provided so that students could experiment, develop prototypes and create functional luminaires.


Describing the design process, Nasielski said, “I sketched out early ideas and then built rough prototypes from chipboard and paper to test with the light sources. I started with many divergent ideas, ranging from tall cylindrical columns to squat angular blocks. I would note the performance of each model and then make changes to eliminate hot spots, direct the light in new directions or alter the overall aesthetics of the form.”


It took further development of his three favorite fixtures (all based on a regular dodecahedron) and 20–30 prototypes before Nasielski was finished.


In the main luminaire of Nasielski’s family of products, the flat top of the dodecahedron has been removed and instead rises to a sharp point, which acts as a beacon for wayfinding and allows the luminaire to be hung as a pendant. The overall form resembles a crystal or an arrowhead, a shape that is reiterated in patterns on the side of the luminaire and in shadows on the ground when the MR16 lamp, nestled inside the point of the arrowhead, is turned on.


The students presented their final designs at the California Lighting Technology Center in March, with lighting designers and architects as judges. As the winner, Nasielski was given the chance to showcase his designs at LFI.


“My experience at LFI was fantastic as a first introduction to the lighting industry,” Nasielski said. “I especially enjoyed viewing the wide variety of fixture designs from each company and the displays demonstrating the latest LED technologies. I also had the opportunity to show my designs to experienced industry product representatives and network with other designers.”