Little Sun by
Olafur Eliasson


Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has made these small solar-powered lamps for people who have limited access to reliable energy – almost a quarter of the world's population (+ movie).

Little Sun can produce five hours of light when charged in the sun for five hours.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Little Sun

Eliasson hopes to bring light to people in remote locations and reduce their reliance on hazardous kerosene lanterns.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Merklit Mersha

The artist, who is best known for his Weather Project installation at Tate Modern in 2003, worked with solar engineer Frederik Ottesen on the project.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Michael Tsegaye

The Little Sun lamps will also be used at a series of 'Tate Blackouts' at the Tate Modern gallery in London this summer, where visitors will be invited to look at works of art in the dark.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Mihret Kebede

Tate Blackouts will take place between 10pm and midnight on 28 July, 4 August, 11 August and 18 August. The events are free with the purchase of a Little Sun.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Tomas Gislason

The gallery will also host an exhibition about the Little Sun project from 28 July to 23 September.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Andy Paradise

The movies are by Tomas Gislason.

Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson

Above image is by Andy Paradise

See all our stories about Olafur Eliasson »
See all our stories on green technology »

Here's some more information from Tate Modern:

As part of Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun at Tate Modern, to be launched on 28 July 2012, visitors will be invited to look at works of art in the dark using only the light of Eliasson’s Little Sun solar-powered lamps. The presentation at Tate Modern has been developed for the London 2012 Festival that runs across the UK until 9 September 2012.

Olafur Eliasson is probably best-known for his highly successful The weather project (2003), part of the Unilever Series in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, which drew over 2 million visitors during its five-month installation.

The artist has developed the Little Sun solar-powered lamp with the engineer Frederik Ottesen to focus attention on the power of solar light to improve lives. Around 1.6 billion people worldwide live without access to mains electricity. Many of them rely on kerosene lanterns for lighting, which is both expensive and a health hazard. Little Sun brings light to people in off-grid locations, enabling them to work, reduce household expenses and improve the quality of life.

Starting on 28 July, people will be invited to participate in Tate Blackouts on Saturday nights after ordinary museum hours. For two hours, the lights will go off in the former power station and visitors can look at the works of art in the suite of galleries devoted to Tate Modern’s Surrealist collection using only the light of Little Sun lamps. This echoes the 1938 International Surrealist Exhibition at the Galérie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, where Man Ray (as ‘Master of Light’) supplied the visitors with torches to explore the labyrinthine galleries.

Beyond the Tate Blackout events, Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun will feature in a space on the third floor of the gallery from 28 July to 23 September, where visitors can learn about solar power, the global energy challenge, light and its importance in and for life. It will also include a special set-up for people to do light graffiti using the Little Sun and offer the opportunity to buy a lamp for £16.50 (€22). In off-grid areas the price will be reduced to about half that amount.

Little Sun produces 5 hours of light when it is charged in the sun for 5 hours. It facilitates the creation of small businesses to sell the lamp and, by concentrating profits at the point of need, it aims to promote economic growth in regions of the world where electricity is not available, reliable, affordable, or sustainable. Little Sun is light for studying, sharing, cooking, and earning. It is light for life.

Little Sun events in September will include a seminar and the premiere of 16 short films on light, life, and Little Sun by filmmakers from off-grid areas around the world.

Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun
Tate Modern
28 July – 23 September 2012

Tate Blackouts will take place on the following dates from 22.00 to Midnight:

28 July
4 August
11 August
18 August

The events are free with the purchase of a Little Sun.

  • Another commendable idea, meant to foster an improvement in the lives of people who are still enslaved by the darkness of night. I do have some caveats, though:

    First off, I would like to know how many Lumens these lights produce.

    I also feel that too much resources might be wasted in giving the light such a whimsical, yet rather impractical form. Wouldn’t it be better if the user could arrange 2 or more lights together, as if it were a sort of jigsaw puzzle or something? Also, that you could stick it on top of a simple base so it could serve better as a reading lamp, instead of suspending it with a cord?

    Is it waterproof?

    Is it shatter-proof?

    The on/off switch looks rather fragile. could there be some way to discard it altogether, and seek a simple solution to turn on the light?

    I still think it’s a great idea, but an idea that it could be improved upon :)

  • Brad


  • mlk

    Red Pill asked all good questions.

    This design and this act look more like PR for the artist.

  • Étienne

    I doubt that his target market could afford a 20€ lamp.

  • Sanjay gorani

    The power of the LEDs is not mentioned. How many lumens of light?

  • Rae Claire

    The price is certainly not right. Perhaps sell them as toys to us first worlders and use those funds to make them affordable (in a more practical design) to the intended users, if indeed that really is the plan.