The Portable Light Project, a non-profit design and research initiative of KVA MATx, creates new ways to deliver de-centralized renewable power and light in the developing world. Portable Light provides adaptable solar textile kits and training to enable people to sew and weave bags, clothing and blankets that harvest energy. This creates the opportunity for greater levels of cultural acceptance and stewardship of clean energy, particularly for women who are often among the most vulnerable in developing countries. Portable Light builds on the globally diverse base of textile knowledge to strengthen local economies, materials and craft cultures with renewable light and energy to charge mobile phones and access wireless networks that are transforming global health care, conservation work, education and business.

Portable Light shapes light as a pliable material and brings light to the task, where it can be most effective. Portable Light’s innovative flat to form design process with parametric software assists with the transformation of any 3D lantern form to a simple, sew-able flat pattern. A thought leader in global, mobile energy and lighting networks and low-carbon manufacturing, Portable Light represents a successful paradigm shift from the single-form ‘hard’ plastic industrial design of modernism to a flexible, pluralized and mass-customized design that transforms assumptions about the generation, scale and use of clean energy. The Portable Light FLAP bag, an energy harvesting textile lantern disguised as a messenger bag, was designed by KVA MATx in collaboration with soft goods manufacturer Timbuk2.

Portable Light has been serving indigenous communities in the Mexican Sierra Madre since 2005. Portable Light projects are underway in Nicaragua through Paso Pacifico and the Clinton Global Initiative, in South Africa through the iTEACH Program and the Massachusetts General Hospital and in the Brazilian Amazon with the IADB and Electricidad do Portugal em Brasil.

Date: Energy Networks in Brasil's Amazon
Status: Ongoing
Client: KVA MATx Non-Profit Global Initiative
Location: Mexico/Australia/South America/USA
Design Team:
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA; Principal in Charge
Tonya Ohnstad, Sloan Kulper IDSA, Casey Smith, Patricia Gruits LEED AP, Heather Micka-Smith
Designer: KVA MATx
The Rocky Mountain Institute, Aspen, USA; Global Solar, Inc, Arizona, USA; Dr. George Craford, CTO; Lumileds, Inc, USA; Centro Huichol, NGO, Huejuguilla Mexico; Nanotechnology Victoria, Non-Profit, Melbourne, Australia; Professor of Anthropology Dr. Stacy Schaefer, C.S.U. at Chico, USA; Doctora Carmen Huerta, M.D., Nuevo Colonia Comunitas, Mexico

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