Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
As of earlier this month, IKEA will no longer simply be the practical destination for those with an appetite for affordable Swedish household items (and meatballs!), or simply the best location for having a devastating public argument with one’s partner over couches. On June 7, Icelandic-Dutch artist Olafur Eliasson turned up at IKEA headquarters to make the surprise announcement of a partnership between the home furnishings mega-brand and his five-year-old, Berlin-based sustainability company focused on solar-power initiatives, Little Sun.
“Little Sun makes solar energy tangible and your world a little bit more sustainable,” said Eliasson, in a statement released by Little Sun. “We are excited to collaborate with IKEA, raising awareness for energy access and the need for global togetherness. Together, we want to connect the world by sharing the power of the sun with everyone.”
The artist turned up wearing a Little Sun solar-powered sunflower LED lamp around his neck — a product developed in collaboration with engineer Frederik Ottesen that can provide up to 50 hours of light after only five hours of solar-charging, with endurance based on brightness setting. The lamps have already been distributed to 10 sub-Saharan African countries, driven by Little Sun’s interest in addressing the needs of some one billion citizens worldwide who live without regular access to electricity. Little Sun also distributes a solar-powered phone charger and a pocket-sized light called Little Sun Diamond.
Presumably, there are many advantages to the partnership for Little Sun, which will now be able to leverage IKEA’s international network. Eliasson has long been interested in light and weather, as with his 2003 installation at the Tate Modern, The Weather Project, which fabricated a kind of interior sun, using 100 mono-frequency lights and other materials. With the impact of human civilization beginning to have marked effects on the weather, it makes sense that Little Sun is interested in using IKEA’s capacity for development and distribution to further the reach of their sustainable energy projects. For IKEA, in addition to the cache of being able to promote products designed by an internationally recognized artist, there is perhaps the potential to grab some untapped market share among off-the-grid types looking to decorate their apocalypse bunkers and stylishly outfit their go-bags.
No need to pack up your long-distance bike and head for your local IKEA just yet — the first products will not be revealed until 2019 — but with this fascinating partnership, the future of sustainable design for off-the-grid living just got a little bit brighter!
Josué Rojas came from El Salvador as a toddler, and his family settled in the Mission.
For a fleeting few hours, a procession of boats on the Grand Canal reenacted the full pomp and pageantry of 15th-century Venice.
The intricate patterns and strategic colors of the linens used on mummified remains have only begun to be understood by humanists, museum specialists, and chemists working together.
With films touching on protest in France, China’s one-child policy, and Indigenous life in Canada, the 2021 Currents program stays both culturally and politically forward-thinking.
In The Contest of the Fruits, the art collective Slavs and Tatars investigates language, politics, religion, humor, resilience, and resistance in a pluralistic world.