Rewind back to an early June afternoon in Älmhult, Sweden. Olafur Eliasson has just taken to the stage at the 2018 instalment of Democratic Design Days, IKEA’s annual celebration of the forthcoming collaborative work that’s got everyone at the company feeling energised about the future of design.
Olafur had been invited to discuss his ongoing Little Sun project, trumpeting the official sign-off on a partnership with the Swedish retailer. Together, we’re told, they wanted to “inspire and explore new ways of harnessing the power of the sun through intelligent design whilst raising awareness for the global need for energy access for all.”
That dream of a brighter world — and ideally a dream that you’d be able to buy alongside a bag of frozen meatballs and some cacti in one of the 300-odd megastores that Ikea operates across 38 countries — has become a reality, and that reality has a name: Sammanlänkad.
A press release accompanying the news of the new range states that the rationale behind this series of “inspiring everyday tools where renewable energy contributes to a sustainable and independent life,” is simple: all of us share the same sun, and thus all of us should be able to harness its power.
In a nutshell, this is the guiding principle behind the project and business Eliasson runs with engineer Frederik Ottesen. Little Sun aims to provide light that is as affordable as it is reliable to residents of areas without access to electricity.
_Sammanlänka_d — which translates into English as “connected” — has seen Ikea and Little Sun putting their heads together in order to develop what they describe as solar panels, charging docks, and lights that they claim “can also provide solutions for active outdoor life.”
Olafur himself is quoted as saying: “We want to connect the world by sharing the power of the sun in order to promote a sustainable lifestyle,” adding that “The collaboration with Ikea is a huge opportunity to raise awareness for energy access and the urgent need for global solutions, while at the same time working with world-leading product designers”
The products are set to hit Ikea stores in 2021.