Solar power has gained popularity in recent years, well known for its eco-friendly benefits and even its mental health benefits. Now, thanks to inventive new solar panels and designer indoor lighting, solar energy is getting a fashion upgrade and infiltrating high-design spaces with its new look.

A person in a dimly lit room adjust a pill-shaped light fixture hanging in front of wall-to-ceiling windows as the sun sets in the distance.

Sunne lamps, made to be hung indoors, mimic solar light and use solar energy as their power source and are currently available via made-to-order requests. The Dutch lighting brand collaborated with Marjan van Aubel to create lamps that hang in windows and absorb sunlight throughout the day. The lamps, originally revealed at Dutch Design Week in October 2022, glow using the energy reserved by photovoltaic cells. The lamps are shaped into pill-shaped “horizons” with three settings: Sunne Rise, Sunne Light and Sunne Set, adjustable via a smart phone app.

A curved terracotta-colored tile rests on a stone ledge in front of a black lamppost. An Italian city lined with terracotta-tiled rooftops stretches out in the background.
Invisible Solar tiles by Dyaqua

Italian lighting company Dyaqua developed solar panels that resemble traditional clay and terracotta roofing to merge heritage and energy efficiency across the country. The company’s Invisible Solar panels are made with monocrystalline silicon cells and nontoxic ceramic housing material, and will be used to aid in the sustainable maintenance and evolution of Italy’s historic sites. The roofing tiles are currently in production, and future prototypes are in the works. Each panel is artisan made, recyclable, and able to "withstand a high static load" and other "atmospheric agents" according to Dyaqua.

Architecture studio Carlo Ratti Associati announced a collaboration with architect Italo Rota to create a large solar farm as the center of the World Expo in 2030. If the Expo takes place in Rome, the structure would become the “world’s largest urban solar farm” and will power the site for the exhibition. Both firms aim to introduce "a new model for urban development" through this large-scale example of shared and eco-friendly energy.

This eco-friendly energy alternative is getting an economic boost globally as well. According to Astute Analytica, the global solar street lighting market is expected to reach $15,716.4 million USD by 2030. Solar energy has entered the realm of high-design and is starting to evolve away from the original and noticeable black solar panels.

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