Mexican students unveil solar-powered lamps made from waste material

Moisés Hernandez
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Back in 2012, Olafur Eliasson launched the little sun project, a small solar-powered lantern designed to bring forth proposals in how art can participate in creating world change.

Continuing his campaign to bring light to those living without access to the electrical grid, Eliasson then unveiled the little sun diamond followed by the little sun foundation and a collaboration with IKEA featuring solar-powered products to be released in 2021.

Almost ten years later, the little sun project continues to inspire creatives around the world. Led by Moisés Hernandez, the solar project is a new initiative by six students from the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico who have created six low-cost hand auxiliary solar lamps. The lighting objects have defined different scenarios, focused on solving the need of nearly 7 million mexicans living in isolated rural populations without electricity.

With sustainable development in mind, the solar project ignited from mexican waste materials like adobe, coconut, beans, wicker, collagen and agave, aiming to translate them into lamps that use solar cells and LED technology. The result is a collection of sustainable lighting objects created with biomaterials featuring unique properties, with a low manufacturing price and a minimum carbon footprint.

‘This project is an exploration of concerns that came directly from the students,’ Moisés Fernández told Designboom. ‘Younger generations are more and more concern about the world that we live in and the materiality of the everyday objects that surround us. The duty of us as guides is to listen to those concerns and work with them.’

About every seventh person in the world lives with minimal or no access to electricity. Most of the time, this is accompanied by a lack of clean water and communication services, leaving people without basic necessities to human existence and community life. These conditions impact societies in more than the obvious, leading to a drop in education levels, reduced working hours and limited emergency medical care.

Taking into consideration the lack or even absence of repairing equipment, the solar project aims for anyone to be able to build and even replace the body of the lamp from scratch when necessary. ‘Solar is a project in which sun rays illuminate the night through mexican soil materials,’ concludes Fernando Sánchez, the designer of the adobe lamp.

Project info:

Name: solar lamps

Design direction: Moisés Hernández

Students: Luis Fernando Sánchez Barrios – adobe; Oscar Andrés Méndez Hernández – bean; Rafael Sánchez Brizuela – coconut; Naoto Ricardo Kobayashi Utsumoto – collagen; Viridiana Palma Dominguez – maguey; Aniela Mayte Guerrero Hernández – wicker

photography: Luis Fernando Sánchez Barrios

Mexican students unveil solar-powered lamps made from waste material

‘adobe’ by luis fernando sánchez barrios is a handmade solar lamp made of mud, with cactus slime and recycled paper


in ‘coconut’, light is reflected on its own crust


‘collagen’ by naoto ricardo kobayashi utsumoto is made of pulverized animal tissue waste as collagen