The winning design for a solar lamp, shown above, will be distributed to off-grid communities in Africa to help people living there dispel the darkness without the use of carbon-emitting kerosene lanterns. About 14,500 lamps, powered by the sun, will be distributed throughout Zimbabwe, Senegal, and Zambia.
The Natural Light contest, sponsored by skylight manufacturer VELUX and Little Sun, which is a social business and a global project founded by internationally renowned artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, asked teams to design a solar lamp in order to bring light to areas where there was none.
The winning team, Mariana Arando and Luca Fondello, both industrial design students at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, presented their winning design at the 6th VELUX Daylight Symposium in London together with artist Eliasson, who was chairman of the jury in the competition.
When asked about what inspired the two students to design the solar lamp the winners said, “We have thought about the role of light throughout the human history. People met around the flames of a bonfire, in the sun, or some other type of light. For us, it was very important to visualize the idea of light being something that brings people together. Joining moments where people talk about the day and spend time with friends and family. The idea of light being an element that unifies people was the fundament for our design concept. With this solar lamp every member of the family can bring his or her own light home,” Arando and Fondello explained.
“Providing access to light is not only about answering a functional need. It is also about understanding the intimate link between energy and our aspirations, our common global desire for happiness. I strongly believe that these two aspects of design must always be seen as one. The winning design addresses both and it understands that holding energy in your hand makes you feel empowered. This design is empowering,” said artist Olafur Eliasson, founder of Little Sun and chairman of the Natural Light jury.
Plan International will distribute the lamps. The distribution model employed is similar in concept to micro loans, in which small local entrepreneurs who cannot obtain loans under normal circumstances are offered small loans that can help them get their businesses started.
To help kick-off sales, local entrepreneurs will initially receive a stock of Natural Light lamps for free. Once they have sold their stock, the result is a profit for themselves and also the capital to purchase additional lamps to sell. This helps them establish their own self-sustaining small businesses.