Images via Designboom here and here
They have also been rather prosaic and boring looking, plain discs on the ceiling. That is, until designer Ross Lovegrove got together with Velux. It is a wonderful demonstration of the power of good design.
It also demonstrates the real difference in design sensibilities between America and Europe. The American company Solatube has all the engineering, but the little round disk on the ceiling is purely utilitarian and as ugly as that horrible dining room set and mean, narrow hall.
On the other hand, Lovegrove's design is "not just an 'add on' product, the new solar lamp emphasizes the fusion of aesthetics with functionality."
Integrating the hanging diffuser changes the character of the light, bouncing it off the ceiling like a chandelier would, instead of just being a porthole on the ceiling.
A basic, almost industrial component becomes and object of beauty. The rooms they choose to model it in are not too shabby either.
Of course, these images are all from the Velux Italian website, a country where they really care about design. But it is just second nature there that one should think about the aesthetics of the object and the quality of the light that comes from it. In America, engineering comes first, and with the exception of Apple and a few others, industrial design is an appliqué stuck on after the fact. But when you start with design you not only get a great product, but it is an object of desire.
If green products were objects of desire, we would sell a lot more of them.
Car on a Stick by Ross Lovegrove
Solar Tree: New Street Lighting from Ross Lovegrove
Alpine Capsule by Ross Lovegrove
Solar Car Prototype from Ross Lovegrove
Bring on the Indestructible, Light Suitcase