Artemide’s Solar Tree — part of a growing forests of such pieces we’ve come across — will move to St. John’s Square in London after four years of relative obscurity for both the solar-powered urban LED streetlight and its designer. Why St. John’s Square? Because the square is located in the Clerkenwell district, an artisan’s area of greater London whose claim to fame is 60 showrooms and an abundance of creative agencies and architects. It is also a natural choice for the ongoing Clerkenwell Design Week exhibition.
Italian design-oriented lighting manufacturer Artemide, working with global electronics firm Sharp, has already exhibited the Solar Tree — designed by Ross Lovegrove — at the Piazza della Scalla in Milano (2007), the Champs Elysees in Paris (2008) and the Frankfurt-am-Main Light +Building (also in 2008). According to our source, Core77, the Solar Tree originally debuted at Vienna’s MAK Museum.
The Solar Tree, described by makers as a “revolutionary” urban lighting project, uses the most advanced solar energy technology in addressing issues of environment, culture and society. Made of steel pipes supporting light globes which in turn support 38 cutting-edge solar cells, the whole is connected to a battery system as well as an electronic device concealed in its base. An assemblage of LED lights provides the illumination.
Solar Tree’s success in the past, and the number of queries from both public and private entities, has Artemide and Lovegrove considering whether the composition and materials will lend themselves to affordable and effective industrial production. Those interested in seeing the specs can view the PDF. In the meantime, the Solar Tree – inspired by the organic forms of nature – will light up St. John’s Square with what designer Lovegrove calls its “ecologically intelligent fruits.” And I’m down with that, as long as the light doesn’t try to take over the world.