Shining Light On the Solar Pebble: Chatting With Designers Plus Minus Design

Every once in awhile a product idea really grabs us and those of you who read all of the great green technology we cover here at EarthTechling. Last Friday we became aware of the Solar Pebble, an innovative and inexpensive little solar charger and LED light said to be equally at home in rural Africa or urban London by its designers Plus Minus Design. We put up a little story about it as we do with most everything else and went home for the weekend. This little story quickly caught fire, drawing a lot of readers and positive feedback over the weekend.

We reached out to Plus Minus Design as a result to find out more about what this small design firm is up to with the Solar Pebble and what makes them tick. Design director Adam Robinson responded back to our questions about the Pebble and his outfit’s humanitarian plans for this soon to be released product. We are proud to bring you his responses here.

Solar Pebble

image via Plus Minus Design

EarthTechling: Tell us a little about Plus Minus Design. What is the focus of your group?

Adam Robinson: Plus Minus Design Is an eco-product-design consultancy based in Leeds, UK. We offer a fresh design approach, aiming to improve on the social and environmental credentials of all products we create, whilst providing genuine business incentives such as increased market share, sales and profits, and minimised costs of waste and inefficiency.

We are all extremely passionate about design and also the moral obligation of designers to help businesses and consumers make better choices, by simply providing better options. We don’t believe for a second, that anybody in the world wants to cause a negative impact, however we also believe that consumerism is so closely tied to global economics and lifestyles that our buying habits are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

This brings us to our design ethos – more of the same but better! Lifestyles will enviably need to change to become more sustainable, however this will be a very slow process. In the mean time we aim to reduce the impact of everyday objects as far as possible, with what options we have today.

ET: Talk about your previous solar-focused projects. What were you hoping to achieve in designing them?

Robinson: Whilst studying a Masters of Design at the University of Leeds, myself and a fellow director in Plus Minus Design, Henry James, had the opportunity of working along side SolarAid, a UK based charity, to research, design and develop a simple solar powered alternative to the kerosene burning lanterns current used in rural Africa.

Kerosene is both extremely dangerous, killing many people everyday in developing nations, and extremely expensive. The aim of the product was to provide a cheaper, safer alternative for lighting, to aid in daily tasks and education.

This project was very successful, resulting in a product called the SolarOrb and the findings being published in several journals. (More information available here). Due to constraints however, SolarAid were unable to take the product on.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.