Detailing FAQ

Toggle through our frequently asked questions to get answers on our backlit systems, process, guidelines, and product-specific questions.

Working with GPI Design

What exactly does GPI Design do?
We create backlit features around the world, and typically execute 10 to 15 unique projects each year. Each phase of these projects is completely custom, and we guide it from design through installation in a delicate balance of integrating surfaces, structure, and lighting.

As designers entrust us with the concept for their backlit feature, we then carry it through design development, engineering, fabrication, shipment to site, and full installation. We most commonly work with architects, interior designers, and lighting designers in the concept phases of their projects. In those early phases we can help with cost analysis, recommendations for detailing, selecting a surface, and specifying our system. As the project progresses through the bidding process we coordinate heavily with the general contractor to win the award of the subcontract, then complete our full engineering, full fabrication, and see the feature through to construction.

In our turnkey scopes, we are handling the surface, structure, and lighting all together as one package. With these full scopes, here is an outline of the materials and services we provide:

  • Supply of translucent surface (such as onyx, wood, glass, resin, fabric)
  • Supply of backlighting system, wiring, and controllers
  • Development, mock-up, and schematic drawings of backlighting system
  • Full structural engineering detail drawings and calculations
  • Fabrication of all components
  • Coordination with general contractor and subcontractor for installation preparation
  • Full installation of surface panels, backlighting system, and structural elements

With less complex applications we may, for example, simply supply the lighting or the surface, but our real passion is integrating the two.

Is my backlit design feasible?
The answer is probably YES! Because we customize each element of our projects, we can create nearly any type of backlit feature that you envision. We try to take on projects that push the envelope and present new challenges. Send us your ideas and drawings – we can begin to share budgets and establish a plan to create your backlit feature.
How do I specify a backlit feature into my drawings?
To ensure that everything is treated as a package even throughout the bidding process, GPI recommends using the CSI format specifications to mark our systems. We do not recommend using the finish schedules to describe materials, as those are more susceptible to substitutions. Please contact us and we will send you a CSI specification guide to use.
How do I choose which translucent surface I want to use? Can you send samples?
We are very passionate about our translucent surfaces, we literally go on a quest to find the perfect materials for you. Our surfaces are like works of art that embody the spirit of a project and we find something that speaks to you and your space, not a material that someone else deemed was appropriate to stockpile.
Because the natural stone and wood materials we use vary so much from slab to slab / flitch to flitch, over our 18 year history we have found that stocking samples has only gotten us in trouble in using samples for material selection purposes. We don’t stock any type of material, either for production or sampling purposes. That allows us to find the best surface material for each project – discovering a match that the client loves, ensuring it is available in the right sizes and quantity, has the right translucency levels for the lighting environment, etc.

Often companies will buy bundles in bulk and stock those materials in a warehouse, making your selection limited to what they have there in that building. We don’t like to be hindered by what’s “in stock”, so for every project, we will actually send our geologists to several sources around the world to find the stone for you. We often source extremely rare varieties, not something readily available in a catalog – we don’t like to be hindered by those kinds of parameters. Mother Nature has so much to offer, and we think she is ultimately the best source for finding the perfect material!

The best way to evaluate our materials is via high resolution photographs and then at mock-up with the appropriate backlighting design. For specific cases, we may have small leftover pieces of materials that you can borrow temporarily. To begin to discuss the material selection process, share your design intent with us and we can strategize together.

Can you put me in touch with a local dealer, distributor, or representative?
We create highly customized systems that are handled by our specialized team in a hands-on manner. After evolving from a standard stone supplier into an integrated design/build firm, we have shifted away from using local distribution as each of our projects is incredibly unique and demands special attention from our core team. Our main office is located in Cleveland, Ohio and we travel worldwide from there. We also have satellite offices located in London, Hong Kong, and Dubai to assist with presentations and installations.

To begin working with us, get in touch and one of our designers will work with you to address specific questions and move the project forward.

Detailing + Integrated Systems

How much space do I need to construct a backlit wall/ceiling/desk/bar?
Our thin Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED Panels provide an even distribution of light in the tightest of spaces.

Overall assembly depth depends on the translucency of the surface being backlit, amount of available space, necessity of diffusers, and support method.

We find it important to consider the surface in conjunction with the light source so that all hot spots are eliminated. Our designers sometimes specify the Flat-Lite™ LED panels to be placed directly to the back of the surface being illuminated but sometimes they’re placed up to 3″ behind. If you have limited space or highly translucent surface, GPI has several light diffusion strategies that can help eliminate hot spots and blend the light.

GPI performs physical testing and trials to determine the ideal lighting cavity for each project. Just send surface selection, specifications, samples and drawings and we can begin to develop your custom solution.

If you would like to take a look at how we detailed specific backlit features, download our case studies.

How do I create backlit wall and ceiling panels without shadows?
Our Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels are placed directly behind the decorative surface, but more importantly, they are installed in front of the structural steel – resulting in solid planes of uninterrupted light without any interference from structural elements. This is sophisticated detail work- GPI designs and engineers a custom structural system per project to eliminate shadow lines and visible structure.
How is maintenance access to the LED backlighting achieved?
Even with the expected lifespan of Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels at 70,000 hours (over 7 years if operating constantly), GPI engineers each project to have the LED light panels replaced if/when failure occurs or maintenance is needed. Typical strategies include rear access panels, side access panels, hinged panels, removable front panels, and removable fasteners. Each project differs depending on the construction methods and surrounding environment- send detailed drawings to GPI for recommendations. Every project has unique engineering issues, but we always figure them out in-house so that the original design intent remains intact.
What available structural systems support stone/glass/resin/fabric panels?

We deliver fully integrated systems of floors, ceilings, walls, curtain walls, reception desks, and bars, so the structural requirements vary with each application.

GPI engineers and fabricates a custom structural system per project. Methods include: structural steel angles, extruded aluminum, z clips, stand-offs, wood framing, suspended systems and hidden rear mounted supports.

Our structural systems seamlessly integrate the translucent surface with the LED backlighting: eliminating structural shadow lines to properly showcase the illuminated surface, allocating room for wiring and possible light diffusers, and holding both the surface and the light in proper relation to one another for maximum lighting performance. On the finish surface, the hardware of the structure can be expressed or concealed, depending on the design intent.

Send us your drawings and we can provide insight into the proper structural or fastening system for your project.

Product: Infuse™ Complete LED Backlighting System

What is an Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED Light panel?

Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels feature embedded energy-efficient, high output LEDs along the edges of an 8 mm (5/16″) acrylic panel. Laser-etched channels distribute light across the face of the flat panel, providing uniform light distribution for seamless backlighting of translucent architectural surfaces.

Flat LED Light Panel for Backlighting

GPI does not stock sizes – we custom manufacture all our Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels per order. Contact GPI with architectural drawings for guidance in sizing LED panels. We base our recommendations on panel size(s) of surface material being backlit, amount of wire exits per panel, total electrical load on the power supplies, intended brightness levels, and ideal panel proportion for even light diffusion. We will also recommend on how many sides of the panel the LED strings should run: 1, 2, 3, or all 4.

Will Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels work for my specific application?

Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels can backlight nearly any type of translucent surface, including natural stone, recycled glass panels, PVC stretch fabric, resin panels, acrylic, screens- anything that transmits light or is perforated.

Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels work well for illuminating feature walls, suspended ceiling panels, reception desks, bar countertops, stair treads, signage, and custom light fixtures.

We can engineer our Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels for exterior applications if certain conditions are met. Contact GPI for additional guidance on designing with LED panels in exterior environments.

We manufacture Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels in custom shapes and curved edges, but cannot thermoform or bend in three dimensions. For radius walls, LED panels can be faceted around a curve. GPI offers supplemental lighting methods to achieve even lighting on curved surfaces. Contact GPI for design consultation and detailing backlit curved forms.

Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels can be drilled in the field if holes occur at least 3 inches from the perimeter of the panel. We highly recommended that you contact GPI before drilling, as field alterations will void the product warranty. GPI can manufacture the LED panels with cutouts, special shapes, or sizes. Cutouts produced in the factory do not interfere with the product warranty.

What is a typical size of an Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panel?
GPI does not stock sizes – we custom manufacture all our Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels per order. Maximum panel size tops out at 48 x 112 inches (4′-0″ x 9′-4″). Contact GPI with architectural drawings for guidance in sizing LED panels. We base our recommendations on panel size(s) of surface material being backlit, amount of wire exits per panel, total electrical load on the power supplies, intended brightness levels, and ideal panel proportion for even light diffusion. We will also recommend on how many sides of the panel the LED strings should run: 1, 2, 3, or all 4.
What color temperature LED panels do you offer? Which one should I choose?
The color temperature of a light source is measured in degrees Kelvin (K).  Generally, one can consider temperatures above 5000 Kelvin visually “cool” with more blue tones and temperatures around 3000 Kelvin visually “warm” with more orange tones.

GPI Design offers our Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED Panels in the following temperatures:

  • 3000K
  • 3500K
  • 4100K
  • 5300K
  • Custom temperatures created per project with specialty diodes and/or gel filters
  • Color changing RGB available

We recommend physical mock-ups to test the interaction between your particular surface and our Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels.  Slight adjustments in the color temperature can bring out different characteristics and moods in your surface.

Are Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels dimmable?
Yes, GPI offers several methods for dimming Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels. Infuse™ Dimming Packs, proprietary and manufactured exclusively for Flat-Lite™ LED panels, allow dimming via several methods:

  • Run multiple LED panels to dimming pack and set levels manually with a user interface screen on unit itself.
  • Through a central building management system (BMS). Run multiple LED panels to the dimming pack and control brightness levels or set scenes through a BMS DMX-512 protocol system.

Optimal methods depend on the size of your application and level of control desired. Contact GPI for guidance on choosing a dimming option.

What lifespan does an Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panel have?
GPI’s Infuse™ Flat-Lite™ LED panels are rated for 70,000 hours. With panels in operation for 24 hours per day thru 365 days per year, the useful life is approximately 8 years.

To calculate the approximate lifespan for your application:

70,000 hours ÷  days of use per year ÷ hours of use per day = lifespan in years

In addition, dimming the Flat-Lite™ LED panels with GPI’s Infuse™ Custom Dimming Packs can significantly contribute to increased lifespan by reducing the operating temperature of the LEDs and turning them off for certain periods of time.

What is the cost of the Infuse™ LED Backlighting System?
The Infuse™ LED Backlighting System contains four elements which we holistically consider per project:

  1. Flat-Lite™ LED Panels. Panel sizes, amount/location of LED strings, and standard vs. high output LEDs all affect price points. GPI can inform these decisions by knowing the type of surface being illuminated, color temperature of the lighting and intended levels of brightness.
  2. Power. Amperage determines pricing of power systems and can range from simple “plug-and-play” transformers, to our custom engineered power supplies with localized distribution, to high-capacity custom engineered power supplies with centralized distribution. GPI evaluates these options based on overall job volume and physical distribution throughout the building.
  3. Dimming/Control. Dimming and controls range from simple handheld remotes, to custom engineered dimming packs, to links with external timing devices. GPI arrives at these decisions based on desired dimming/control behavior and overall job volume.  If your building is utilizing a central building management system (such as Lutron or Crestron), we can engineer our lighting to tie into that system.
  4. Diffusion techniques. If necessary, pricing is based on GPI’s recommended technique which depends on physical testing. Based on the brightness of LED panels, location and susceptibility of seams, surface illumination, and space available in which to cast the light, we will engineer the appropriate diffusion technique to blend the lighting into a seamless plane.

Send us drawings to request a custom quote for your project >

Product: DURA-Lite™ Glass-backed Translucent Stone Panels

Why are DURA-Lite™ stone panels backed with glass?

DURA-Lite™ Glass-Backed Natural Stone consists of a thin layer of stone laminated to glass backing, with the stone serving as the outward finish face.  Why do we use the glass backing?

  1. Light. Virtually any stone becomes translucent for backlighting applications when milled down to only millimeters and laminated to glass.
  2. Rigidity. Glass backing increases the rigidity of the thin stone layer, allowing for much larger and lighter panels. Larger panels results in less seams, fewer grout lines, and reduced installation times.
  3. Uniformity. Taking small slices from a single section of stone allow its unique pattern to be spread over a large surface area.
How large of a DURA-Lite™ translucent stone panel can I design?
Because DURA-Lite™ glass-backed stone panels are a natural product, panel sizes depend on the specific stone selection and availability of slabs. Generally, 3′-6″ x 6′-6″ (1067 mm x 1981 mm) marks the maximum size for designing with translucent stone panels. We can certainly provide larger slabs of some stones, but this may increase lead time, freight expenses, and structural requirements. Consult GPI for panel sizing for your specific application and stone selection.
What is the typical thickness of a DURA-Lite™ translucent stone panel?
The thickness of DURA-Lite™ depends on panel sizes, specific stone selection, and level of translucency desired. The thin stone layer ranges from 1 mm to 8 mm (approx. 1/32″ to 5/16″) and the glass backing ranges from 4 mm to 20 mm (approx. 5/32″ to 3/4″). Overall thickness ranges from 5 mm to 28 mm (approx. 3/16″ to just over 1″).

Typical thickness of a DURA-Lite™ translucent stone panel

In what finishes are DURA-Lite™ stone panels available?
We custom source our DURA-Lite™ glass-backed translucent stone and manufacture it per project. Virtually any natural stone can be laminated to glass to become translucent- onyx, alabaster, quartz, marble, and granite. Since the natural stone comes from the ground, only Mother Nature limits your stone choices. GPI works closely with design teams to source stone based on availability, desired aesthetic, panel sizes and light transmission requirements of each project.

Read more here and download a packet that will help communicate your preferences.

My client already knows which stone variety they want. Can you provide that variety?
Because we custom source our stone per project, we can find matches to nearly any variety (of course this is subject to the natural availability from the ground itself). Our relationships with quarries around the world allow us to scour many locations in order to source the perfect stone for your project.

To find matches for a stone a client has already approved, please send images of that stone and we can discuss finding a match. We will request that you send an image or sample of the stone, and not merely its name.  Variances and name changes are rampant in the stone industry and the only way to verify a match is with visual comparison.  After we find readily available stones, we will submit high resolution images for your approval. Then we begin to create DURA-Lite™ Glass-Backed Stone by laminating that stone to glass.