Created by designers Marjan van Aubel and Pauline van Dongen, The Solar Biennale challenges the technological and economic perspective on solar energy and brings people and art back to the forefront.
Every hour, the energy that the Sun sends to Earth is enough to power our planet for an entire year. Harnessing this energy is crucial to achieving net greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. However, some environmental experts are concerned about the huge amount of land that would be needed for solar farms as part of this process.
Challenging this narrative, two Dutch designers, Marjan van Aubel and Pauline van Dongen, are launching The Solar Biennale. “The current narrative on solar energy is very much dominated by a technological and economic bias,” Pauline van Dongen explains. “We believe that to really create change and embrace this new sustainable future, powered by the Sun, we need to bring a more cultural perspective and human and eco-friendly values, which are often set aside”.
Solar energy as art
The collaboration between the two designers brings solar energy into art and design. “Beyond the technological and economic aspects, we can make use of the sun in various artistic aspects“, explains Marjan van Aubel. Both designers have already worked on integrating solar panels into everyday objects, with van Dongen focusing on fashion and accessories while van Aubel creates lamps, tables and stained-glass windows that can be used to power small appliances.
By inviting designers, architects, and artists to make the transition to renewable energy, the Solar Biennial aims to spark an alternative ‘solar revolution’, in which everyday objects, from furniture to accessories and buildings, are equipped with photovoltaic cells.
The event seeks to demonstrate that solar energy can be integrated into the very fabric of our products and our built environment to power it sustainably. This would allow humans to satisfy their own energy needs, rather than relying on electricity shipped from distant production fields.
Towards a solar revolution
The Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam is hosting this first edition of the event, which was established to raise awareness of the cultural and social importance of architecture, design, and digital culture. It will be an opportunity for innovators and scientists to work together to imagine a future where everything runs on solar energy.
The Solar Biennale will feature a central exhibition, accessible from September 2022, and a six-week programme of seminars and hands-on workshops, culminating in Dutch Design Week from the 22nd to 30th October 2022.
With the hope of taking their solar vision further beyond the limits of the event, van Aubel and van Dongen are in talks with the Nieuwe Instituut and the city of Rotterdam to operate the museum entirely on solar energy in the future. In order to create a plurality of perspectives on our relationship with the Sun, the two founders also plan to organise all future editions of the biennial in different countries.
Tags: #Dutch Design Week, #Nieuwe Instituut, art, Rotterdam, solar energy, sustainability