Ross Lovegrove’s Solar Tree lights up London

Designed by creative maverick Ross Lovegrove and manufactured by Artemide, the Solar Tree will be a design beacon for London during the city’s 2012 cultural and Olympics celebrations. Beaming from London’s design district during its annual design celebration, it will be a dynamic element of EC1’s St John’s Square from May to September.
Part public art, part sustainable street-lighting solution, this striking piece will form a fitting centrepiece to the forthcoming Clerkenwell Design Week, which has become one of the most important events on the design calendar. The Solar Tree will be a distinctive landmark for visitors, local residents and workers to meet and hang out with friends and colleagues, while also benefiting from its light source during the evening.
‘This is a project that celebrates design, nature and art and represents the DNA of our time,’ says Lovegrove – who calls himself a ’21st Century translator of technology’. While embracing digital and technological possibilities, Lovegrove’s vision of the future is based on the fundamental belief that only natural growth patterns and organic forms can create maximum beauty.
Artemide’s technical workmanship coupled with the sheer enthusiasm of Ernesto Gismondi – founder and head of the highly respected lighting company – was the perfect match to help realise Lovegrove’s concept, and the Italian firm is proud to be presenting the Solar Tree in the UK for the first time.
Measuring six metres tall, the solar-powered streetlamp infuses a bit of nature into the man-made, urban landscape. Its striking green trunk has 10 branches that radiate light to the street below. The solar energy is accumulated through photovoltaic cells in the ‘heads’ and consequently stored in integrated batteries. Four of the ten ‘heads’ and an additional ten ‘blades of grass’ light up the street from dusk until dawn… by day, the sculptural concrete base makes a welcome resting and meeting point.
Storing enough electricity – even during cloudy days – demonstrates that using renewable energy for street lighting to cut emissions is the way to go, and the Solar Tree could well become the main form of street lighting across Europe.
More compellingly, Lovegrove believes that street furniture can and should be used to meet society’s demands for public energy sources to tap into – from chargers for mobile phones and laptops to plug-ins to power cars…
A long held champion of creating products that address energy and its future consumption, it is fitting that his pioneering approach will have a presence in Clerkenwell – an area that is historically home to forward-thinking radicals, pushing the boundaries of convention.

Artemide will also be exhibiting in the Farmiloe Building from 22-24 May, one of Clerkenwell Design Week’s three main venues.

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