Producing power by harnessing kinetic energy from human and animal movement is a great idea but one with few good results. Disco-ball lights powered by club-goers getting down on the dance floor is a fun concept but ultimately unsustainable—one can only do the Electric Slide for so long—and there are simply not enough hamsters in the world for those rodent-wheel-energy fantasies to be fulfilled. Recently, Swedish designer Karin Johansson approached the concept with a slightly new angle, generating light through a familiar activity: Spinning a globe.
Johansson's Dynamic Lamp comprises a globe stand, a semi-opaque white sphere that looks like a blank canvas for a world map, a dynamo affixed inside the sphere, and a light bulb. When one spins the sphere, the dynamo (which is essentially a mechanically-powered electric generator like what you find in hand-crank radios or flashlights) turns the human power into electricity, which turns on the light. When the sphere, and thus the dynamo, stop spinning, the lamp turns off.
Though far from perfect—a single spin illuminates the lamp for slightly less than 30 seconds (click here to watch a video of the lamp in action)—the design adds to the ideas about and possible solutions for turning human kinetic energy into electrical power and reducing our demands on fossil fuels. The Dynamic Lamp also makes a statement: “It looks like a globe of the Earth so it moves you to think about how today’s energy issues are a global problem,” Johansson says. She also enjoys the more whimsical aspect of the design: “It’s like a fairy tale,” she says. “It’s almost like putting fireflies in a jar to make a lamp.”
Johansson is a student at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts, and Design’s InSpace interior architecture and furniture design program, from which she graduates this spring. She created the Dynamic Lamp for her master’s thesis project, and though it is not currently being produced, she is looking for a manufacturer. Her lamp, as well as work by over 50 other master’s students throughout the university, will be exhibited at the school, in Stockholm, May 12-24.
Click the “View Slideshow” button at the upper right-hand corner of this post to see a selection of the projects that will be on display and visit konstfack.info for more about the school and exhibition.