Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
But it looks like a cathedral.
The frenzy over solar power isn’t waning—if anything, it’s gaining momentum. As Mother Jones reported, 2014 was a record-breaking year for solar energy, with the prices of panels, installation, and financing dropping 10 percent. More recently, people went nuts for Tesla’s Powerwall battery packs, jumping on the waiting list long before production even began. The problem is, many solar energy options leave plenty to be desired when it comes to aesthetics. The “Current Window” has that covered. This sleek solar panel charges your devices while also serving as a design piece.
Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel teamed up with London-based graphic designer Marine Duroselle to fabricate the mod installation. The dyed cells form a zig-zag pattern that recalls plant leaves. Each contains titanium dioxide, which harnesses solar energy to juice up cell phones, tablets, and other gadgets. (Just connect them to USB ports on the window’s sill.) A single window can harvest up to 25 watts per day, Dezeen reported. Any surplus is stored in a backup battery for later use.
The windows—which will roll out in London later this year—offer a modern solution to the sustainable energy problem, all while channeling the artistry and craftsmanship of the stained glass works crafted for historic cathedrals. The translucent panels echo the designer’s hope that energy harvesting and use will become more transparent for consumers. van Aubel explained to Dezeen:
Like old stained glass windows that told stories through their colours and patterns, the Current Window tells us a modern story about energy consumption. The idea is that people can literally see through the window where their energy comes from and how the process works.