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Marjan van Aubel: Let’s turn solar energy into an artform

Marjan van Aubel is a designer of a different kind. The award-winning Dutch designer has made solar energy her battleground. Her goal? To make it desirable for the greatest number of people, to integrate it into the heart of the home, by bringing it from our roofs to our living rooms. Her latest feat is a tapestry made of colored photovoltaic cells. Called “Ra,” after the ancient Egyptian solar god, this creation was designed to be hung in a window to capture the sunlight. When the sun goes down, a circle gives back a soft light stored throughout the day. A process that uses third-generation technology: “Ra” is equipped with a battery connected to a sheet of electroluminescent paper less than a millimeter thick. 

This is not Marjan van Aubel’s first attempt. Before she dressed the roof of the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, the designer made a name for herself with “Power Plant,” a solution to food shortages with a solar-powered greenhouse. The same system was used for “Current Table,” a table, again equipped with her famous solar panels, which allows us to recharge our mobile phones. Her talent and innovations have earned her a place in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Vitra Design Museum.

Lisa Agostini