Driven by his interest in sustainable energy, the American designer developed Solari during his time on the design masters course at the IED.
"The project was part of a brief from the IED Design Master Course in 2013, where students partner with real clients in need of innovation to solve problems," Hon explained.
"In this case, an Italian manufacturer looking for a new product that would allow users to cook without using fuel or electricity."
The cauldron-like cooker features a carrying handle that folds out into a stand.
It contains a heat-absorbing cast aluminium cooking pot, which warms up when exposed to concentrated sunlight.
The light that passes through the product's transparent lid and a lens beneath is focused onto a reflective spun-aluminium shell that lines the container.
The light bounces off the aluminium onto the pot to heat it enough for cooking in.
A paper-thin heating element beneath the cooking pot can also be employed when plugged into an electricity source, allowing Solari to be used indoors or on a cloudy day.
"Designing Solari was a fantastic eye-opening experience, as I did not imagine that I could still be developing a concept that started from a short six-week project," said Hon. "Through each prototype and testing and feedback loop, I discovered something unexpected and learned something new."
The design was awarded both the James Dyson Award and IF Student Design Award in 2014, but Hon is still looking for ways to improve his product.
"I have been in contact with many field users, cookware and solar cooker manufacturers to learn what is important in a new solar cooker design and insights into how people would use them," he explained.
"Some of these conversations have inspired improvements such as adding an insulating jacket to keep the food warm for later consumption and an application that shares recipes among users."
The IED offers 29 courses in several languages, with schools in Brazil, Italy and Spain.
"Istituto Europeo di Design is more than a school, is a place where it is possible to combine the theoretical approach to study with creative thinking and concrete problem solving methods," said the institution.
"Our faculty is composed with professionals, with strong experience in industries, companies and agencies in the field, who can convey to the students their knowledge, acquired studying and above all working."
Read on for more information from the IED:
Solari is a portable solar cooker, designed, developed and built by Bodin Hon during his experience as a student of Design at IED – Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. Bodin is a young designer, moved by environmental problems and interested in sustainable energy.
Solari is an innovative project that feeds itself with solar energy or, if necessary, can be plugged-in to the wall and use electricity. It is easy to use: no worries about burning food, Solari just needs to be pointed towards the sun and cooks by itself. It's lightweight and portable with carrying handle that folds out into a stand in seconds.
"The client and IED's faculty supported the project by creating a brief that challenged us into creating something that was not in the market," said Bodin Hon. I had the opportunity to put into practice the skills and design process that was taught in the course."
"Throughout the course, the faculties, who themselves actively work in a wide range of industries in Italy, brought in valuable experiences and insights, which guided the project from many perspectives such as technology feasibility, personas understanding, market research and communications."
"I mostly enjoyed working with real-world clients on inspiring yet challenging briefs which allowed the creativity of free thinking to flourish while, at the same time, keeping the concepts grounded to reality from a manufacturing and feasibility perspective – which resulted in projects that are appealing, forward-thinking and innovative."
"Using the strategic design approach, it was satisfying to see how design can act as innovation strategies for our client companies. The interactions with clients was also a big component as we were presenting to management level representatives, who were in positions to make industry changing decisions, for us it meant that each one in the class had a personal stake in the success of their projects, which fostered collaboration and pushed our personal boundaries to do the best."
As Bodin experienced, IED – Istituto Europeo di Design is more than a school, is a place where it is possible to combine the theoretical approach to study with creative thinking and concrete problem solving methods.
IED's faculty is composed by professionals, with strong experience in industries, companies and agencies in the field, who can convey to the students their knowledge, acquired studying and above all working. Istituto Europeo di Design has a wide offer of Undergraduate Courses, Masters and Continuing Studying Programs in the areas of Design, Fashion, Visual Communication and Management.
"The awards - Solari won the Dyson 2014 and IF Student Design Award and received a lot of other nominations - and reception the project received from the public were fantastic and helped in the funding of more prototypes," explained Bodin.
"I consider even more important, that the project was able to contribute to the global conversation on sustainable solutions through design. Designers can actively contribute in ideating new solutions for the future," said Bodin.
"The enthusiastic response from everyone added motivation for me to continue on developing the project further and even look wider into other problems and designing solutions for them."
Bodin is still improving Solari, thinking about new features.
"Taking a user-centred approach, I have been in contact with many field users, cookware and solar cooker manufacturers and even organisations such as 'Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove', which provides cookware to combat the pollution and health risk from open-fire cooking around the world – to learn what is important in a new solar cooker design and insights into how people would use them. Some of these conversations have inspired improvements such as adding an insulating jacket to keep the food warm for later consumption and an application that shares recipes among users."
The faculty and the staff of IED – Istituto Europeo di Design works hard every day to offer each student instruments and possibilities to live happy and important experiences similar to the one lived by Bodin. Every year IED sees many students' histories of success, born during studying experience in its schools in Italy, Spain and Brazil.
To follow the evolution of Solari, visit the dedicated website.