The WalkLight is the result of the collaboration between Laura Palacio and Daniel White. They want to enhance education by reading wherever you go through designing an object that can be charged with sustainable energy. A product for adults and kids: simple, fun and light. Having light to be able to study in the evenings is crucial for kids in the rural areas of Colombia. But electricity there is scarce. The WalkLight charges by movement (using electromagnetic induction). Carrying the light during the day while walking the long way to school, playing around and doing chores, charges the WalkLight, so it will work when it gets dark. The light becomes a lamp that unites the family at night while they have dinner, study or just share a moment together.
The product is based on the needs of Colombian kids, but the product is also useful for Dutch outdoor enthusiasts, sportspersons and active campers. You can use it around your arm, your waist, your ankle or simply hang it on your backpack. A few hours of walking, running or cycling charges the WalkLight, which can be used as a reading light or to charge your phone. For every WalkLight sold in Europe a WalkLight is donated to a child in South America in a rural area where there is no electricity.
The design process consisted of different steps. The first was getting to know each other, asking questions, finding out what motivates and drives the other, what life of a designer is like in an urban environment, finding out what the differences and similarities are in culture and everyday life.
The second was picking a subject. They changed subject from a similarity (we started off with the subject of coffee) to a real life problem (the lack of light in rural areas of Colombia).
They then researched the problem and searched for different technical solutions to producing electricity/light in an eco-friendly way. After choosing the Faraday principle – a magnet traveling through a conducting coil can produce electricity – they started by making a ‘proof of concept’-model to test the idea. They then produced a design based on usability, practicality and ergonomics.
Being worlds apart they used as many different technologies as possible to communicate, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, e-mail and Dropbox being the predominant ones. They conversed in English, mailing each other sketches drawings and reference images. The live design-meetings (using Google Hangout) where the most productive, but with both designers having a busy practice and the window in which to converse live being a little tight (due to the 7 hour time difference between Colombia and The Netherlands) it wasn’t always easy to meet up live. They met about once a week.
ABOUT THE TEAM
Laura Palacio (Medellín, CO) – I believe that good design means something that lasts over the time. I love to design things that people truly need and will keep them as long as they can. I believe that design is a cultural solution for everyday problems and as a designer I know I can do something to change the world, by incorporating responsible objects in our society. In Vida Util (useful life) we create simple, friendly and functional design solutions. We think on every detail to get to a well-made object. We try to create objects that surprise, excite and make life better. We are convinced in love and design as a way of helping people. www.vidautil.co
Daniel White (Rotterdam, NL) – Design should make lives better, easier and more fun. As a designer I think about whom I am designing for, I think about whether there’s a real need for the design, but also about where materials come from and what happens to the product after it’s regular lifespan. A designer should also put a little bit of himself into each design. Love makes stuff better. So that’s what I try to do. I think designers should not just make beautiful, cool stuff, but also a responsible, relative and world changing stuff. Being a designer means playing a small part in changing the world for the better. It means doing something I love. www.whitewebsite.com