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Almost Genius: A Lamp That Uses Only the Sun's Reflected Rays

Pure Sun creates indoor light without any electricity (!). We're just not sure who'll actually want it.

Green-home tech is great and all, but some of it is way too damned complicated. (Remote-controlled everything, no thanks!) Pure Sun bills itself as the analogue antidote: It's a table that doubles as a light source, using only the sun.

Designed by Denmark-based Igland Design, the table is effectively a lamp without bulbs (even though it looks more like a pinball machine without pinballs). The key is an angled mirror that grabs the sun's rays, then throws them onto ceilings, walls — wherever — creating an instant patch of light. Depending on the weather and time of day, it could ostensibly replace artificial lamps.

The catch: You have to monitor the light manually. By tweaking a set of dials, you control the angle of the mirror, which needs to be adjusted throughout the day to trace the trajectory of the sun. Kind of a pain, right? Especially since a device exists that'll automatically do that for you (and it even comes in a passive, low-e version). But the designers are steadfast: No. Technology. Evarrrrr! "If the Pure Sun table had a sun-tracking system, it would miss the point," Dag Igland tells us in an email, "[A]n important part of the idea is that you have to actively dial in the right angles to capture light ... and that by doing that, one (hopefully) gains awareness on saving energy."

File that under well-intentioned-but-yeah-*$&%ing-right. One of the great fallacies on which so much green marketing is based is that people simply aren't cognizant of their eco transgressions, but if they buy stuff aimed squarely at raising awareness, they'll change their behavior in a snap. Logical? No. As we've pointed out before, only folks who are already environmentally enlightened bother purchasing that sort of product in the first place. The rest don't because, well, why the hell do they care? So Pure Sun might find a customer base among greenies who'd make Al Gore look like Tony Hayward. For our money, though, it's too didactic — and frankly requires too much work — to attract a broader audience. But hey, it could always make for a nice side table.

[Images courtesy of Igland Design]