Solar Tree by Ross Lovegrove



Solar Tree is a solar-powered street lighting systemdesigned by Ross Lovegrove for the Museum for Angewandte Kunst (MAK) in Vienna. The lighting has been engineered by Artemide in collaboration with Sharp Solar.


Solar Tree will be unveiled on 8 October at 8.30pm, on the Ringstraße in front of MAK during Vienna Design Week.

Update 08/10/07: see photos of the installation in our new story.

Images and the following statement courtesy of Lovegrove Studio:



A project stimulated by the MAK in Vienna that celebrates DESIGN, NATURE AND ART. Therefore it represents the DNA of our times and the need to converge the most advanced technologies with that of the beautification of our collective environment.

The SOLAR TREES communicate more than light... they communicate the trust of placing beautifully made, complex natural forms outside for the benefit of all of society becoming a museum that if folded inside out, the museum as an incubator of change in society... and with this the promotion of environmental science and the joy of the new aesthetics made possible by the digital process.

They bring nature to the grey-ness of urban environments and optimistically lift our senses towards the future and how the physicality of all the objects that surround us will inevitably change... either through need, though enlightenment or simply just the celebration of new form in industrial art that compliments the new quest for biological forms in architecture.

Ultimately this will be a fantastic collaboration between the Worlds largest producer of Solar Cells SHARP SOLAR; ARTEMIDE an leading force in the field of lighting innovation for the past 40 years, ROSS LOVEGROVE, a visionary translator of technology for the 21st Century; The MAK in Vienna supported by the Angewante, the leading school of Architecture and Design in Vienna and then ultimately the objective is to partner with other world class art/culture cities who in turn will plant the trees in equal celebration of environmental progress in the urban condition.

Posted on Thursday September 27th 2007 at 7:07 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Joachim Diaz

    The design really sucks. Typical Lovegrove crap.

  • Joshua Flims

    Interesting that you erase comments that do not please the blogger
    My friend Joachim expressed his disgust for the Lovegrove crap this morning and got cancelled

  • Hi Joshua, I don’t believe in censorship! Maybe I deleted it by mistake, I had to wade through a lot of spam comments this morning. Please ask him to post it again.


  • Joshua Flims

    Thanks Marcus, the comment is already there again. I am happy you are not part of the Murdock crowd who started to launch their first internet censorship in Australia.


  • abdulqadirabas

    haha…u guys are really funny..fighting in the comments..anyway..i prefer the stems so much.. gradations from green to white look alive..lilies’s been designed preferably..

  • max

    I love this..luvy nutter..

  • Specialcharacter

    This isn’t design, its art. My evidence:

    “The SOLAR TREES communicate more than light… they communicate the trust of placing beautifully made, complex natural forms outside for the benefit of all of society becoming a museum that if folded inside out, the museum as an incubator of change in society… and with this the promotion of environmental science and the joy of the new aesthetics made possible by the digital process”


    Design would be having the “leaves” follow the sun. Now that would be inspired.

  • Dhiz

    why does the design suck? It may be another Lovegrove aesthetic trademark but at least it promotes sustainability in the built environment?

  • Saba Meidany


  • Britton

    except if the “leaves” followed the sun that would be a moving part that could break down, inspired design means simplicity and strength, the less pieces something has, the longer it can last! I am however concerned about the delicacy of the design, some drunk moron could attempt to climb it and break a branch AND their neck, what would the trees be made of? perhaps an acrylic? with a steel insert? set 36 inches into the ground? this is why I need to go to some sort of design school…I’m a nerd.

  • Joshua Flims

    It is as I said before. It’s sucks. It is the same Lovegrove 3D drawing as usual.
    The process is as follows:

    1. He charges the client big money to make an impressive 3D presentation
    2. After a little technical and scientific analysis it comes out that the project is so damn expensive , that it does not work and that it will not be worth pursuing……just imagine some hail coming down on it….

    3. it ends up in the showbook of Lovegrove of thousands of designs nobody has ever realized
    Lovegrove should have become a PR agent and not a designer.

  • Robert H. Elliott

    Terrific concept but the execution is lacking. My first thought was it would be a glaring target for vandalism if used for public lighting … but for a residential yard it’s a matter of the owner’s taste.

    Though I don’t like it personally I do applaud the designer’s intent and his effort.


    Robert H. Elliott

  • Ren

    Really nice idea, just got to design something that doesn’t look like a bunch of “Steven Spielberg” flowers with solar panels plonked on top.

  • rubish, would not work as a street light. Decorative lighting perhaps. what happens after year one when the solar panels are covered in guava? and city dirt. what happens on c loudy/winter days why use 15 columns when one will do.? what is the light output incontrast with the luminary input? would this actually even work? LED’s are not common in streetlights for a reason. they are not up to it yet!! nice shape ross but keep it in your garden…!

  • Interesting idea and we are in definite need of design innovation that considers environmental matters such as the use and implementation alternative energy sources like solar power…. BUT I have to admit the design sucks, I cannot stomach his work and it is not simply about the aesthetics, Josh makes some very valid points that i agree with…
    ….but then having said that… I am now looking at my street lighting outside and that is grim(ey) too!

  • sirhc

    “They bring nature to the grey-ness of urban environments”

    they don’t bring nature to urban environments, nature does.

    these could be fun, as lighting elements and sculptural pieces , i might climb one even if i wasn’t a drunken maroon, but it would be nice if i didnt have a 10 meter dead tree, holding a humming sodium lamp, next to my bedroom window. i see the stems glowing like glow sticks and growing or shrinking as needed. say that wouldnt be cool!

  • ficat

    criticism are easy…
    i think this project is great !

  • valerie

    i think this is a great project. I want too know if i could be a ditributor in France; Tank you for your answer.

  • Stacey

    the arguments seems to be about aesthetics – bit pointless – it’s totally subjective, it would be good to hear about whether this design is more or less intrusive to install than current outdoor lighting solutions though.

    maybe we have to learn to depend less on light full stop, they managed during the blackouts…

  • Hello.
    I´m a civil engeneer intersted in solar energy uses for constructions.
    I´d like to know more about the solar tree and other ideas in that area. I watched a program today, on CNN, when the solar tree was presented.
    Thank you.

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  • Brilliant idea and design. It’s more than a one off, I think it’s an inspiration for town and city planners to start doing something for the planet.

  • Patrícia

    First you should all hear Ross on, then you’ ll agreed that he is one of the greatest designers ever.

  • Fire

    Innovative design, pioneering concept, using efficient light sources.
    This project is pushing the boundaries of modern technology and asking important questions about the many possibilities we now have to light our towns and city’s.

    However, very impractical, very expensive, and in all probability not suitable for mass production – it takes eight men to install/move one ‘Solar Tree’!

  • Pierre Sinsua

    it looks very nice ffrom a bystanders point of view which is exactly right. the irony or have i misread is…. solars dont work at night so how is the light going to run? have i missed out on the batteries bit?

    it is elegant and would look very nice in the right inviroment. lovegrove is very organic so his work has to be at the right place at the right time