Sunne is a startup by Amsterdam designer Marjan van Aubel that incorporates solar PV cells and battery storage into a decorative linear pendant. Begun as a Kickstarter campaign in 2021, Sunne is an interesting concept that takes advantage of proximity to sunlight to dramatically increase the potential of micro solar generation – beyond just rooftop solar grids.

micro-generation and intelligent DC microgrids

One hour of sunlight equals one hour of lighting run time.

This is a sexy design to showcase the potential of micro-PV generation throughout buildings. Micro-generation of solar PV combined with more localized/decentralized storage makes enormous sense — but only once buildings adopt DC power as the primary infrastructure. The inherent intelligence made possible by state-of-the-art power electronics will allow a building to know all the power flows into and out of various devices throughout its enclave. Once it has a complete view of the power generation/storage/consumption, a DC system can move power around dynamically as needed. So while a fixture like this might be perfectly fine for 9 months of the year, for the 3 really dark months when the sun angle is so low and daytime so short, power has to be drawn from other sources in the building, from a local micro-grid or even from the macro grid. But still, that means for 3/4 quarters of the year, this is a self-contained resilient solution.

“sky” color palette

Beyond the self-contained solar generation and storage, I find especially thoughtful the multiple channels of LED strips inside of the fixture, creating gradients of pastels with the overall tonal range of sunrise/sunset/dusk/dawn.

I had pitched the same reduced “sky” color palette as an alternative to the ticky-tacky RGB palette way back in 2006 at Color Kinetics, but at that time I just couldn’t get anyone to see the commercial possibilities of the “blackbody + line of purples” colorset as a product offering. Nice to see it gain traction.

As a designer, Marjan van Aubel experimented with incorporating solar PV generation into a variety of furniture, lighting fixtures and windows. Check out van Aubel’s TEDx talk below.