This short blog post is written by ArtCenter College of Design Interaction + Designmatters Concentration student, Kelly Weldon about her recent internship with Little Sun in Berlin. As a designer, Kelly aims to create work that changes the lives of people for the better. To learn more about Kelly and her work, please visit kellycorin.com
Little Sun is a social business and global project addressing the need for light in a sustainable way. It benefits communities without electricity, creates local jobs, and generates local profits. For every solar lamp bought on-grid, one lamp can be sent off-grid to be sold at a locally affordable ,price. Rather than a short-term fix of donating lamps to an area without electricity, Little Sun works with and trains local entrepreneurs to build profitable local businesses that distribute Little Sun solar lamps. Because for Little Sun, “it’s not just about delivering light to people – it matters how it gets there.”
I found Little Sun during a study abroad program with ArtCenter in Berlin. As we were living “unplugged,” we toured Studio Olafur Eliasson. Not only was I inspired by the work happening in the studio, but I was also intrigued by the little solar lamps that Olafur had designed and turned into a social business. When I got an e-mail from ArtCenter that Little Sun was looking for interns, I didn’t hesitate to apply. With help from Designmatters, I was in Berlin as a Little Sun Communications Intern four weeks later.
Working for Little Sun has been a brand new experience — I’ve gotten to live in a city I love and that inspires me every day, while figuring out if I can really work in a “start-up” environment and in the business of designing for social impact. We worked on projects in the art world, education, retail, and many other areas. Working in an office of 20 (and growing) people was definitely something I had to adjust to. There is an ever flowing need of content from both on-grid and off-grid areas of the business, while we also needed to keep up with social media and web presence, and try to spread awareness of the project. During my first week I even helped with Little Sun’s Kickstarter project for their newest product, Little Sun Charge, which is a high-performance handheld solar phone charger and light. I got to watch as we soared past a goal of €50,000 to reach €265,448, making it possible to send hundreds of chargers to off-grid areas.
And though it was the busiest job I’ve ever had, it has also been the most rewarding. Every time we created work, we got to see the direct effect it had on our followers and our customers. When you’re working with a small team toward a common goal, it’s more possible to stay constantly inspired.
Incredibly, I was also able to travel with Little Sun. Three of us from the Communications team traveled to Paris at the end of November for the COP21 climate negotiations being held there. We were there to support Studio Olafur Eliasson’s “Ice Watch” project, but also to engage in a photo campaign. We walked around the streets of Paris, asking people what their #LittleSolutions were for climate change. Everyone seemed eager to participate, and we got a really positive response from all of our social media platforms. Emotions and tensions were high in Paris in the previous weeks, and something as pivotal as COP21 really brought a positive feeling to the City of Light.
I’ve taken away a lot from working with this project. I can say that I have grown as a designer, because I know that I can work with quick deadlines and heavy content while still producing quality work. I can say that I have grown as a person, because my co-workers always gave me positive feedback and helped me improve in many ways. Finally, I can say that I belong in the Designmatters program, because there’s no better feeling than knowing the work you’re doing is making a difference in the world– for the better.
Please join the project or find out more by keeping up with Little Sun online.
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