Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson was recently named one of Complex Magazine’s ‘15 Most Important Visual Artists of 2014 (So Far)’ in part due to his latest project which saw him design a solar-powered LED lamp in collaboration with engineer Frederik Ottesen.
Better known for sculptures and large scale installations, Ólafur’s latest project, named Little Sun, which he and Ottesen stress is not a charity but rather a social business, focuses on getting clean, reliable, affordable and sustainable light to the 1.2 billion people worldwide without access to electricity. The project also aims to create jobs and profits through training local entrepreneurs to become sales agents.
Launched in July 2012 at London’s Tate Modern, Little Sun now has distribution in eight African countries: Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan and has distributed over 165,000 lamps worldwide.
In April, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested USD 5 million (EUR 3.76 million; ISK 582 million) in the project.
The lights are sold at a higher price in areas where there is electricity, in order to help keep prices in off-grid areas low. A Little Sun Pop-Up Shop is open in Lækjartorg square in Reykjavík until September 1.
Little Sun supports the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030.