a portable solar light
Challenge & Inspiration
Velux and Little Sun held a competition challenging students to design a product to add to the Little Sun family. They asked for competitors to keep global relevance, user centricity, sustainability, market potential/convertibility, price, and weight in mind. I took inspiration from the original Little Sun as a symbol of happiness and joy, wanting to give the user a new symbol of positivity.
Flames are symbols of inspiration, resurrection, change, warmth, comfort, purification, and energy--all qualities that I wanted my version of the Little Sun to convey. I initially explored the flame as a 2D icon before developing it into a 3D form.
Components & Features
Through a SolidWorks model (rendered in Keyshot), the final design could be adjusted to compactly fit all the components and be suitable for injection molding. The product was also designed to be used in a multitude of different ways: the user could wear the light by stringing a lanyard for hands-free use or charging during the day (similar to the Little Sun); stand it on a flat surface to use as a task lamp; or hang it from above to light a larger area.
A physical prototype was made using 3D printed pieces and parts from the original Little Sun
Competition Submission Items
The competition required students to submit a single image, a description with a 500 word count limit, and a 30 second video. The following description was submitted to the competition:
Little Spark is a portable solar lamp which takes inspiration from Little Sun and the world’s original source of portable light: fire. Fire has offered many advantages to humankind since its discovery, one of the most significant being service as a source of light. With fire, we were able to harness the energy of the sun in the darkness, leaving us capable of accomplishing more in a single day. That luminous flame has since transformed into the light bulb, but fire continues to hold significance in our lives.
The symbol of fire is universally recognizable but has collected a variety of interpretations throughout cultural history. Fire is active, alive, and energizing. Fire rejuvenates, excites, and inspires progress. Fire is strong and passionate, but also calm and comforting. Fire instills change, lending the power and potential for anything to happen.
As a functional product, Little Spark can be used in multiple ways. It can be held comfortably in one’s hand, strung and worn around one’s neck, stood on a flat surface, or hung from above by the bottom and top holes. This allows it to be flexible in a range of situations when one requires a direct source of light to accomplish a task. While being convenient, it can also be available for an affordable price. The piece is designed to be injection molded using a minimal amount of material for the exterior plastic case (about equal to if not less than the Little Sun) to help reduce the cost. It is designed to be light and compact while fitting all the components and without compromising the strength of the imagery and form. It has the same amount of components as the Little Sun (with one less screw) so no additional components need to be manufactured. The components can also be arranged similarly to the Little Sun, without any wires or extra solder, to further reduce costs. The minimal amount of material would not only reduce costs but also enhance the sustainability aspect of the product which is inherent in its solar energy source. Additionally, the piece is designed for disassembly to aid in easily separating the components according to their materials for recycling.
Just like Little Sun, Little Spark can hold value for anyone who uses it. Someone in Africa might wear it during the day to charge and use it at night to light their way as they walk, or a child might use it to complete their homework in the dark. Meanwhile, someone in Europe might find it useful as a rechargeable, hands-free light for camping trips or in place of a flashlight. Little Spark, however, offers more than a flashlight as it celebrates the significance that light has played in the role of human history.