The history of Phantom Lighting Systems is intertwined with the story of owner Tom Kretzschmar, a pioneer in the lighting design industry. As founder of Illuminations Lighting Design (1980), Kretzschmar sold and installed industry-leading products and refined his lighting expertise. He was motivated to improve lighting technology and sell his own lighting products so he set about simplifying processes and creating patented products that illuminated artwork, collectibles and architecture while minimizing the appearance of lighting system hardware.
In 2019, Kretzschmar sold Illuminations Lighting Design and untethered Phantom Lighting as a standalone entity. This evolution propelled the company into a leadership role as a specialty lighting manufacturer and foremost lighting designers of fine art lighting, cabinet lighting and cove lighting products. Kretzschmar’s framing projectors, cabinet and strip lights feature LED lighting technology that is unique, proprietary, and specialized in the lighting industry.
Based in Houston, Kretzschmar, through Phantom Lighting Systems, is devoted to transforming your surroundings into visual masterpieces through cutting-edge lighting solutions married with stunning design.
Phantom Lighting Sysytems manufactures six distinctive lines of LED lighting projectors for new construction or remodeling projects that feature our proprietary “lighting from within” technology. We also manufacture six series of low voltage lighting strips that conceal hardware so the focus is on your art, collectibles or architecture. Each strip is customized to the exact dimensions of the cabinet, furniture piece or room you are lighting.
Phantom manufacturer representatives and lighting agents are available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America to provide technical and design expertise. Contact Us today.
Phantom Lighting Systems’ bold, rich history can be traced back to the pioneering vision of one man – the founder of our lighting company, Tom Kretzschmar. Tom’s journey into lighting design and manufacturing came after working as an electrician for an electric company.
His work brought him to many affluent homes in River Oaks, Texas, where his clients wanted art lighting services and other niche lighting. In the 1980s, cabinet lighting was just beginning to become popular, and Tom fell in love with the charm and appeal of display lighting.
Tom also became the exclusive installer along the Gulf Coast for Wendelighting framing projectors in 1983.
As Tom installed the large and cumbersome projectors in high-end homes around Houston, he felt a need for more streamlined projectors in the high-end homes he worked in. Ones that could potentially encompass the scopes of art lighting, cove lighting, and cabinet lighting, to maximize the effects to an interior space.
Tom developed prototypes that were flexible and would adapt to a variety of mounting arrangements. He was driven and ambitious and explored new lighting possibilities. His goal was to develop a lighting system that was easily adaptable, safe, and concealable.
He succeeded in developing specialized lighting trims that hid the lighting hardware from every viewing angle.
To exact maximum effect in a given lighting application, Tom felt custom trims were necessary to mount lights vertically and horizontally. He coined the phrase “See the light, not the fixture” from this concept.
Tom’s next goal was to design various wiring methods, including one for cabinets with adjustable shelves and another for fixed applications.
From there, he developed his own style and brand while going into business for himself as the owner of Illuminations Lighting Design. He’d call his brand of lighting Phantom Lighting and was awarded his first patent in 1987 for his creation of Phantom’s cabinet lighting systems, where he used low voltage on metal shelf supports to add illumination to each shelf.
With many more years in the industry, Tom saw a need for yet another product, his Phantom Contour optical framing projector.
More Lighting Patents to Come, Phantom Kept Improving Its Lighting Technologies. After receiving his second patent in 2002, Tom launched his Phantom website online and began working with a network of professionals around the U.S. Tom received a third patent in 2004 for the original halogen Contour Projector.
As Tom is a perfectionist and a futurist, Tom could always see the need for improvement and modernizing his systems to the current trends.
So, in 2005, he submitted another patent application for his updated version of the halogen Contour Projector. It was approved in 2009.
As incandescent and xenon lighting were more common in the 80s, Phantom’s Classic cabinet lighting systems were designed with those types of festoon lamps.
But LED soon became more popular, although the performance between different manufacturers was inconsistent and the lights were initially very expensive. There were also dimming issues, among others.
Tom knew he could create superior LED lighting technology. He consulted with designers, optical engineers, lamp manufacturers, and other industry professionals to meet and exceed his specific, rigid criteria while still maintaining the spirit of his original design characteristics.
The results were impressive, and Phantom updated its options to include high-performance Xenon and LED lighting.
Tom created two new series of versatile proprietary lighting solutions, the Elite and Ultra series of designs. Each system was designed to allow for lensed and shielded options as well as more Kelvin color temperature choices.
Tom’s cabinet lighting products were just the beginning. He added cove lighting, which consisted of trims that could handle straight lines as well as radius turns. Today, cove lighting is more popular than ever, and Phantom is a leader in the linear lighting industry.
In 2019, Phantom Lighting Systems introduced its updated LED Contour Projector and LED projector conversion kits. The kits allow existing customers who have older models the option to upgrade to LED without replacing their entire lighting system.
Tom’s ambitious designs usually required new types of lighting fixtures. So, under Tom’s visionary leadership, he engaged with engineering teams to develop the kind of equipment needed to achieve the impeccable display of art, sculpture, fine photography, displays, vaulted ceiling coves, and more.
Today, Phantom Lighting is the premier manufacturer for Tom’s patented designs sold to homeowners, lighting design companies, electrical contractors, and online lighting vendors.
Tom combined the various lighting services with his scientific knowledge to create museum-quality fine art lighting solutions, not just for galleries or businesses but also for the upscale home.
Phantom’s lighting disciplines grew to include full exterior lighting designs, exterior home lighting, and landscape lighting, in addition to the various interior lighting designs Tom learned to master.
His vision of an integrated home lighting experience, where a fully illuminated property would enhance a home’s beauty, came to life. One where complex layers of interrelated light could fully magnify each interior room, each piece of fine art, and every custom furnishing while bringing fulfillment to the homeowner’s lifestyle.
Tom and his team deliver the ultimate lighting experience through cabinet lighting, art lighting, and cove lighting.
Tom’s passion and dedication to his craft have led to his prominent placement at the top of the commercial lighting services industry.
He and Phantom Lighting are considered to be one of the foremost leaders and pioneers in lighting solutions created specifically for the needs of discriminating business owners.
Early in his career, Tom recognized the need for businesses to buffer their profits against rising overhead costs. Tom’s ventures led to the development of newer, cost-efficient technologies that dramatically reduce a business’s cost of operations.
Phantom Lighting’s technologies also help businesses reduce their carbon footprint in a marketplace that’s becoming more environmentally conscious.
Tom spearheads a team of design experts who render an assessment of calculations and costs well in advance of purchasing their lighting system. Full disclosure and all options are communicated, along with a calculated return on your investment.
As an esteemed business owner, you can always count on getting the best value for your money when purchasing one of our revolutionary, state-of-the-art lighting systems.
Thanks to Tom’s lifelong steadfast persistence and dedication to the art and science of light, Phantom Lighting is a premier leader in the lighting industry today. We manufacture state-of-the-art lighting systems that can be tailored to the individual homeowner or business need.
We work with homeowners, contractors, industry professionals, and businesses to help you achieve the best lighting system available on the market today.
Tom has owned multiple lighting companies throughout his vocation while studying the disciplines of art, design, architecture, and electrical wiring. His multidisciplinary skill set has enabled him to master the complex nuances of interior lighting, exterior lighting, fine art lighting, advanced landscape lighting, and commercial lighting systems.
If you desire the ultimate in lighting design solutions for your home or business, contact us today. We have a simple, streamlined, and sophisticated custom lighting solution for your cabinet lighting display, cove lighting, or art lighting project.