• 02.28.12

Famed Artist Olafur Eliasson Creates LED Light For Developing World

Little Sun, a solar-powered lamp, is an energy-efficient alternative to the commonly used kerosene lanterns used in rural communities lacking access to electricity.

A new solar-powered lamp holds the promise to provide light to small, rural communities without access to the electrical grid. Sounds like a project from perennial do-gooders Yves Behar, Project H, or IDEO, doesn’t it? Rather, it’s the latest work from the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, better known for his experiments in spatial and light perception than product design. (See Co.Design’s interview with him here.)


LittleSun, which Eliasson developed with the solar entrepreneur Frederik Ottesen, is a lightweight flower-shaped disk that can be worn on the body, attached to a lamp base, mounted onto a bicycle, or hung on the wall or ceiling. A four-hour outdoor charge provides five hours of light for such activities as reading, studying, cooking, or working. It’s also affordable: One LittleSun delivers ten times more light at a tenth of the cost of a common kerosene-fueled lantern. Per the project’s website: “Replacing kerosene with solar-powered lighting, a key goal of the World Bank’s efforts to improve energy access, improves studying conditions for children, lessens the chance of kerosene fires, reduces spending on kerosene, lowers health risks, and decreases air pollution.” The rechargeable battery has a life expectancy of three years.

LittleSun is expected to be released this summer; Eliasson already has plans to expand the collection to include a solar-powered cell-phone charger and radio. Go here for more info.

About the author

Belinda Lanks is the editorial director of Co.Design. Before joining, she was the managing editor of Metropolis.