The environment-startup Little Sun, cofounded by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, let the sun shine in with their appearance at Q Berlin on November 7, 2019. During the afternoon conference program, director Felix Hallwachs spoke about the Little Sun Foundation’s goals and mission, demonstrating its namesake – a little, solar-powered lamp – as part of their performance. It was a wonderful and truly enlightening experience when the Station dimmed its lights, and then, one by one, conference participants across the room switched on their lamps. Simulating a sunrise, the moment showcased the Little Sun’s immediate impact.
The lamp is designed for people living without access to a constant power supply; and the startup services ten Subsaharan states, including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. The benefits of Little Sun are especially crucial to school children, since many of them help their parents in their houses or fields in the afternoons, leaving only the evenings for study time.
In countries close to the Equator, the sun sets around 6pm, which is when families tend to start using kerosine lamps. These lamps emit toxic fumes that are also irritating to the eyes, which means that most children are unable to make use of them for more than one hour. Little Sun has made it their mission to provide children and their parents with clean light for reading. Distribution in Africa is made possible by sales in Europe and the United States.
According to Felix Hallwachs, a guiding principle during the lamp’s development stage was the idea that everyone has the power to change something. The object’s smallness adds to its symbolic power; it is tangible and instantly graspable for anyone. It also contains the thought that human beings consist of energy: All of us embody agency and creativity. Every ray of light adds context to our surroundings, as the sun enables us to tell the time, the season, and the place. Light grounds us and gives us purpose; it is a fundamental element in all of our lives.