(photo credit: Adital Ela))
For sustainable designer Adital Ela, lighting up a park at night is as simple as
playing with a child’s pinwheel toy out in the wind.
Ela, founder and CEO
of SSENSE DESIGN, has launched a Kickstarter online fund-raising campaign to
finance the test phase of her invention, WindyLight, “a collection of
self-sufficient outdoor lights that perform on free, clean energy, designed to
let soft gusts of wind in the urban environment blow light into our world,”
according to the project mission.
Completely isolated from the national
electricity grid, the standalone devices are powered by small pinwheel
mechanisms that collect urban wind energy and transform it into electrical
current, which in turn illuminates LED lights on the flaps of the pinwheels.
During less winy periods of the night, the lights are able to access energy
stored from windier daytime periods.
“I saw all these kinds of big
projects being done all around, with harvesting wind the middle of the sea and
on top of mountains,” Ela said Sunday. “But when you walk in the city you can
see the wind is there, and most of us live in the cities today. So how about
asking how we can connect to the lower winds that are in the city?” The same way
urban buildings are able to sport solar panels to harness the sun’s light in
small increments, Ela said she felt tiny wind turbines should be able to do the
same with city air.
“It’s really about being more creative and more open
in our thinking,” she said.
“Slowly, it came into this idea of breaking
it down into smaller modules that work on a much lower energy.”
started out with a $25,000 grant from AOLartists as well as the support of the
international TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) fellows team, of which
she is a member, but she realized this would certainly not be enough to launch a
pilot phase of the project in Israel’s cities.
After approaching various
corporate investors, she began to feel that going with commercial financing
would undermine her “social-environmental vision, she said. So she launched a
Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of November, asking the public to
contribute $65,000 by December 31, which she will only receive if she achieves
that number in full.
“It’s been really exciting – there’s been a lot of
interest, a lot of interest different from what I expected,” she said, noting
that a lot of people have been offering to form collaborations and do projects
As of Sunday, the project has achieved a total of $18,036 from
99 backers, according to the Kickstarter campaign site.
Ela has designed
a wide range of models, from single glowing pinwheels on rods planted in the
ground, to spherical collections of small illuminated pinwheels hanging from an
“The whole concept of this project is that you develop one piece
that you can multiply into different shapes,” she said. “This is why it’s rather
easy to develop.”
Once she has the funds necessary, Ela will launch a
pilot phase in cooperation with interested cities, and will likely test her
modules in places like promenades or parks, rather than on main roads, she said.
While she doesn’t yet have a specific city that she intends to start working
with, she said she certainly intends to continue involving the public in her
vision along the way.
“I really think this is the time to try to do
things differently and openly in ways that really promote creativity,” Ela
For more information about Ela’s project and a link to her
Kickstarter campaign site, visit windy-light.com.