“Let’s turn solar energy into a form of art,” declares Dutch designer, Marjan van Aubel, creator of Ra, which is a unique experimental creation that takes something mundane and technical and transforms it into a piece of art. The lighting installation comprises vibrantly coloured solar cells that capture sunlight during the day and light up during evenings. But, instead of using solar energy to light up a single bulb, Aubel has utilised multi-colored solar cells to create a piece that reminds viewers of the stained glass windows that beautifully shine during sunny afternoons.
Deriving inspiration from the ancient Egyptian sun god, Ra, the installation projects a beautiful and almost magical reflection around it. In Egyptian mythology, Ra is believed to be the creator of the sun. Taking cues from this ancient, yet still relevant belief, Aubel has designed her Ra to appear like a light-giver. The amalgamation of an ancient legend with the offerings of modern technology renders it timeless.
Ra comprises organic photovoltaics printed on thin foils. These foils capture the solar energy and store it in an integrated battery. This stored energy is then used to power the electroluminescent paper. Ra can be hung up in any corner of a household or office building. The installation is created in such a manner that it changes colours depending on the position of the sun and angle of the sun rays falling on it. This dynamic behaviour by the installation makes it appear like it is a part of nature, ever-changing and ever-adapting.
Ra has the ability to singly transform a space with its presence. The abstract shapes and patterns on the surface of Ra infuses a playful energy, while also projecting vibrant shadows around. It can enliven mundane spaces and fill energetic ones with curiosity. Aubel created Ra with the intent to trademark the story of our future, just like archaic design elements remind us of particular eras from the past. By using the sun as a source of inspiration and energy, Aubel physically metaphors the message of looking up with hope, rather than digging down with despair.
Marjan van Aubel is a solar designer who spends her time designing objects that can bring solar energy into the everyday lives of all individuals. Her work as a designer is guided by the intent to create sustainable designs that utilise the latest technology, while still being aesthetic and unique from the design point of view. Some of her previous works include ‘Current Table’ and ‘Power Plant’.