These Cambridge-based lighting designers created the world’s first molten-glass 3D printer.

Lios, the design studio Michael Stern and Daniel Lizardo founded in 2018, gets its name from an entirely made-up word created by loosely combining “light” and “shadow.” It’s not an obvious portmanteau, but neither is their process: making light-refracting glass pendants from the world’s first molten-glass 3D printer.

Photo courtesy of Michael Stern and Daniel Lizardo / Lios Design

The two helped design and build the 7.5-foot-tall machine as graduate students at MIT. The printer heats the glass to upward of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing the duo to “extrude molten glass like you’d extrude cake icing,” Stern says. 

Photo courtesy of Michael Stern and Daniel Lizardo / Lios Design

The resulting fixtures have undulating forms that cast aurora-like light against surrounding walls. Next up: 3D printing metal—or even wood—to pair with digital glass.

Learn about Stern’s and  Lizardo’s daily rituals, plus read more of their responses to our Q&A below.

Hometowns: 

Bronx, NY —Stern

Pasadena, CA —Lizardo 

Describe what you make in 140 characters. 

We make glass objects. We make machines that make glass objects. We make computer programs that talk to machines that make glass objects. —Stern 

I often make things I didn’t expect to exist or knew would be useful. I try to design the why and how, not so much the what. —Lizardo

What’s the last thing you designed? 

I designed a new toolpath for our CNC mill. We make hardware to pair with our lighting fixtures. Recently, I’ve been overhauling how I generate toolpaths to improve the synergy between the mill and the aluminum . Each piece of hardware is custom cut for its glass component, so creating systems for this kind of design is both essential and very satisfying. —Stern 

A digital tool for generative glass design using our glass 3D printer. —Lizardo

Do you have a daily creative ritual? 

I start the day by reading the New York Times in bed. Then, my dog, Juniper, and I walk to work. I turn on the Mac 2000, an Italian espresso machine from 1991 that’s half project/ half tool. After knocking out some emails the machine is hot and I’m ready to grind some beans and pull a shot. —Stern 

I try and find a different order to my day or my workflow, to change where I write something down or where I sit and work. Changing things helps me think differently. —Lizardo

Photo courtesy of Michael Stern and Daniel Lizardo / Lios Design

See the full story on Dwell.com: The Dwell 24: Lios Design
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