We’ve written about the Portable Light Project before at Inhabitat, but we find it so inspiring we thought we’d call your attention to it again. One of the products featured at the soon-ending Design For the Other 90% exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, the Portable Light delivers light bright enough to read and work to rural areas without access to electricity, using solar panels, LEDs, and rechargeable batteries, all woven into a textile base by women weavers in the San Andreas region of the Sierra Madre, Mexico.

Designed by Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA MATx), the beauty of the Portable Light Project is its merging of high-tech industry and local craft-based economies, not to mention the fact that it delivers usable light to demographics and regions that are either off-the-grid, mobile, or in locations with little daily sunlight. “Portable Light is based upon the principle that global needs for technology development are inevitably interconnected. Knowledge, techniques, market solutions and data produced by the project benefit the “third” world and the “first” world where the need to imagine, design and develop energy efficient alternatives to the centralized and increasingly costly electrical grid is becoming ever more important,” says KVA.

The materials themselves and attention to the design process prove that Portable Light is not just functional, but thoughtfully constructed with sustainability and humanity in mind. It combines high-brightness LEDs from pedestrian walk signals, water-resistant tactile switches from dishwashers, and rechargeable batteries from the cell-phone industry, all sourced from consumer appliances and standard technologies.

The lights have been distributed and used in regions of Mexico and are being more widely distributed in the near future. The Huichol in Mexico, for example, use the flexible textile surface to provide direct, reflected, or diffuse lighting for cottage-based industries such as community tortillerías, sandal making, repair work, weaving, and beading.

And if you’re wondering about lighting levels, not to worry- high brightness solid state lighting (HBLEDs) deliver a bright digital light of 80 lumens per watt (bright enough to read, work and illuminate areas at night). Make sure to go see it in person at the Design for the Other 90% exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, which closes on September 23rd!

+ Portable Light Project
+ Design for the other 90%

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  1. Colleen October 13, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    I read that the cost will be $50 but that it is being subsidized by charities.

  2. popular logistics &midd... October 2, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    […] Link to Inhabitat post.   […]

  3. Donna September 16, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    The exhibition is only thru September 23rd, so get thee up to NYC!

    Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The Museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational and curatorial programming. It is the mission of Cooper-Hewitt’s staff and Board of Trustees to advance the public understanding of design across the twenty-four centuries of human creativity represented by the Museum’s collection.

    Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is located on Museum Mile, at the corner of 91st Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City.

  4. Naomi September 15, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Fantastic to see this. Anyone know where this “Design for the Other 90%” might be showing next? I live in Washington, D.C. and would love to be able to see this exhibit in person.

  5. Richie September 15, 2007 at 11:45 am

    More than a great idea.. this product is a great design evolution all by itself ! It surely will change everything. Let”s see how ?

  6. royalestel September 13, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Spiffy. Might have to work up a set of DIY plans for this one.

  7. Francesca September 13, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    What is the cost going to be?

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