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Ikea taps a world-famous artist to bring solar power to the masses

Ikea has partnered with poet of light Olafur Eliasson to develop Sammanlankad, a collection of solar gadgets expected to go on sale in 2021.

Artist Olafur Eliasson started selling small solar lamps–dubbed Little Suns—in 2012 with the goal of bringing light to areas of the world where electricity is not reliable. Since then, he has sold more than 838,000 solar lamps, all in the shape of sunflowers. Now, he’s hoping to expand his reach through an international partnership with the furniture giant Ikea.

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This week at Ikea’s annual conference, Ikea and Eliasson showed off the first prototypes of their solar-powered collaboration, called Sammanlankad, which means “linked” in Swedish. The collaboration is part of Ikea’s aggressive push into electronics and sustainability.

The pieces include a solar panel, which pairs with a lamp and phone charger that can be modularly rearranged to suit your needs. The collection includes several different bases to frame the solar-charged disk lamp.

According to Ikea, users are supposed to place the round solar panel, which can be stuck to a window using suction cups, either outdoors or indoors–wherever it can absorb sunlight. From there, you can plug in a charging dock to power up your electronics for later. Then, you can use the charger, in the shape of a white rounded disk, as an external battery pack for your phone or you can use it as a lamp.

The white disk can also slide into a variety of Sammanlankad lamp bases, all of which have a celestial look. One piece, a pendant lamp, has the removable white solar-powered lamp disk in the middle, with concentric rings of metal surrounding it. Another lamp base looks just like a globe of planet Earth you might find in an old library. Even the solar panel itself looks like it was inspired by the universe: Metal rings orbit the circular solar panel, making it look like a dark planet.

Sammanlankad will be released in all Ikea markets in 2021. Ikea has not yet announced pricing.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is the deputy editor of Fast Company's technology section. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and follow her on Twitter @kschwabable

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