GE-CIA Collaboration Reveals Future with Flexible Paper-Thin OLED Technology

CLEVELAND, Ohio, June 30, 2009 — (NYSE: GE) — GE's ongoing development of a revolutionary, energy-efficient light source of the future-flexible, paper-thin, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) – and its collaboration with industrial design students from the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) – show how truly limitless lighting design and application will become in the years ahead. 

"OLEDs hold great promise as the next big lighting technology for both commercial and residential use," says John Strainic, global product general manager of lighting at GE Appliances & Lighting. "Many of these potential applications conceived by the CIA students align nicely with what lighting designers, architects and other thought leaders have told us they want to accomplish with OLEDs."

GE challenged the students to conceptualize designs that would take advantage of two key attributes that commercialized GE OLEDs are expected to feature: flexibility and thinness. This contrasts with the rigid glass form that other companies appear to be pursuing.

Concealed, under-shelf lighting for retailers, flexible signage for advertisers, illuminated stairs for architects, light-up wallpaper for decorators and illuminated safety outerwear for emergency services personnel are just some of the real-world applications that the CIA students envisioned for GE. The students' imaginative perspectives take center stage in a video that GE debuted at LightFair International 2009, a global lighting industry trade show held in New York City in May. It is viewable at or directly at

The CIA students delivered hundreds of concepts that are now under review with product management and researchers at the company's Nela Park facility in Cleveland and at its Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. GE projects its first commercialized OLED products will be introduced in late 2010 or 2011.

Students shape the future of lighting
Working with Douglas Paige, associate professor of industrial design at CIA, and students in a "Future Design Center" class, GE conducted a series of "design ideation" or idea generation sessions. The students were asked to develop feasible application concepts using OLED technology.

The first semester of the class focused on research, ideas and concepts. Students in the second semester picked up where students from the first semester left off. The second semester involved refinement, modeling and prototyping phases, as well as final product recommendations.

Matthew Beckwith, designer in residence at CIA, says part of the process of understanding the client's challenge is to go out in the world and find out what has already been done and what has been successful. "It's really important to get the students hands-on to make their ideas relevant," he notes.

Beckwith says the GE team, led by Jason Raak, GE's OLED program marketing manager, pushed the students to think freely and conceptualize without limits or concern about viability. Beckwith notes, "Our approach allows crazy, big ideas to surface before the class shifts gears and begins to craft all that creativity into something that's relevant for a client, and ultimately, consumers."

"Year after year, a primary objective of the class is to put our industrial design students in a consultative role with area companies," says Paige. "Our work with GE was a perfect marriage."

About The Cleveland Institute of Art
Founded in 1882, The Cleveland Institute of Art is an independent college of art and design committed to leadership and vision in all forms of visual arts education. The Institute makes enduring contributions to education and extends its programs to the public through gallery exhibits, lectures, a continuing education program and The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, an art and independent film program. For more information visit