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Little Sun lamps at the Beyeler Fondation during Art Basel Miami Beach

By Shirley L. Kearney, German by Martin Pütter

How to bring more sunshine to Florida? The Beyeler Fondation has found a way. It is devoting its entire stand at Art Basel Miami Beach to the Little Sun, a solar-powered lamp created by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen.

In parallel, the city of Miami plans to present the lamps from a typical local food truck, inspired by Florida street-food culture. From December 5–8, more suns will bounce their light about in the fairgrounds and in the streets. And they have another goal. The lamp is a work of art that works in life. It can efficiently deliver clean, practical and low-cost light to the 1.6 billion people worldwide without access to electricity.

Five hours of charging in the sun produces 10 hours of soft light or four hours of bright light, so you can hold the power of the sun in your hand and carry it along with you for outdoor activities and also use it as an energy saver at home.

The lamps are produced by an innovative and socially dedicated business based in Berlin, Germany, concerned with how to get light to people who need it. The “how” is important. It follows the principle of trade, not aid, and aims to deliver sustainable light to those who are not connected to an electrical grid.

The Little Sun project was officially launched at Tate Modern in London in 2012. The blending of unique design and creative engineering resulted in a product that is popular and efficient, and has a positive global impact. Olafur Eliasson himself has said: “In my understanding, an artwork is fundamentally tied to its surroundings, to the present, to society, to cultural and geographic determinants. It activates this dense texture, thereby examining the world in which we live – and by doing so, it can ultimately change the world.”

In January 2013 Olafur Eliasson introduced the Little Sun to Kofi Annan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and in July 2013 it was introduced into the Centre Pompidou’s design collection in Paris.

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