Our guest today is Marjan Van Aubel, a pioneering and award-winning solar designer whose innovative practice spans the fields of sustainability, design and technology. Her most notable works are Sunne, Current Table, Power Plant and she designed the roof of the Dutch Pavilion for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. In this episode, we talk about solar democracy, the power of perseverance, building a future that we all want, and how solar energy can become a movement.


The Beginning

“I want to create objects or things or buildings that are beneficial for our future generation, not only the next one but the one after and after.”

Marjan was always fascinated with solar technology, how items receive light and transfer it into electricity. Her design graduation work in 2012 already had elements of solar technology, but her passion started when she created tableware that contained solar power.

This made her realize, that everything can be a solar panel. Later, Marjan created a table that was made out of solar panels too. 

Solar Design

“We kind of lost our relationship with energy.”

In the beginning, creating objects from solar panels were challenging for Marjan and her team. The technology was still new and expensive, and many of her designs ended up in galleries instead of homes. 

Luckily, solar energy is not that expensive anymore, in fact in many countries, solar is already the cheapest source of energy. Her goal is to make solar energy accessible and affordable for everyone. 

She has many solar projects. All have the goal to be efficient with power, and to move towards a sustainable future.

Marjan’s Kickstarter, Sunne launched on the 3rd of March, and it is the first selfpowered solar light for the home that is becoming available for consumers. Hopefully, this will change the public’s perspective on solar energy.

Collaborating For a Better Future

“Now hopefully we start a movement of solar energy.”

Marjan thinks of collaborations as constellations because if people work together they can create something bigger than themselves. 

Marjan is part of a group of creatives that set up a movement called Solar Movement, where she collaborates with scientists, philosophers, and people from the solar industry in the Netherlands, to promote solar energy.

She is very optimistic about the future because the new generation is very conscious about sustainability and having a purpose in life.

Palma’s Reflection On The Future That We Want

This week, we invite you to reflect on creating a future that you want for yourself and for the planet. Take a minute to journal about this future. This can be a utopian future, with no limits attached. What is the ideal future for our planet?

Then ask yourself: How am I currently contributing to that future that I want? Where am I in harmony with it, and where am I not? And what's the smallest possible step that I can take today to live more in harmony with that future that I imagined for the planet?

About Our Guest, Marjan Van Aubel

Marjan van Aubel is an award-winning solar designer whose innovative practice spans the fields of sustainability, design and technology.

In collaboration with scientists, engineers and institutions such as Swarovski and ECN.TNO, the Dutch Energy Centre, van Aubel works to promote extreme energy efficiency through intelligent design. From working with expandable materials, to domestically integrating solar cells that mimic the process of photosynthesis in plants, she adds a double function to objects and puts them to work: A table is not just a table, but also a producer of electricity. Through her practice, she strives to redefine our current relationship with solar technology and accelerate its transition to ubiquity.

Graduating from the Royal College of Art (Design Products MA) in 2012 and the Rietveld Academy DesignLAB (BA) in 2009, van Aubel has since exhibited at world-class institutions such as the V&A (London), the Design Museum (London) and the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam). Her work is also part of the permanent collection at the MoMA in New York, the Vitra Design Museum, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, The Montreal Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia.

In 2019 she won a Dutch Design Award chosen by the Public and in 2018 the Climate Action Challenge by What Design Can Do. In 2017, Swarovski named Marjan the Designer of the Future, and in 2016 she received WIRED’s Innovation Award, the Wallpaper Design Award and was chosen to be the Radicale Vernieuwer (Radical Pioneer) Netherlands by Neelie Kroes. She received the London Design festival Emerging Talent medal in 2015 and in 2012 she won the First Prize Dutch Material Award.

A special thanks to Marjan Van Aubel for taking the time to share her inspiring story with us.

Continue Your Journey

Now it is time to find your own unique path. We can help you to connect with your innate wisdom and create an inspiring vision for a deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Apply for a discovery session on our website,palmamichel.com.

Learn to meditate with Palma on the MUSE brain-sensing device and receive a 15% discount (will be shown at checkout only) with this link!

Thank You

Thank you for joining us on this journey of the Explorer’s Mind Podcast.

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Until next time, We truly appreciate you listening and look forward to continuing this journey together.