How much energy do you have and need today? This is the starting point of The Energy Show – Sun, Solar and Human Power, a survey exhibition at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam from 3 September 2022 to 5 March 2023. Compiled by curator and designer Matylda Krzykowski, the exhibition revolves entirely around the sun and its design possibilities. It reflects on the visitor's personal energy levels, features dozens of innovative examples of solar technology, and ultimately leads to one key question: what would the world look like if it ran on solar energy?
This exhibition presents projects by artists, designers and researchers from all over the world, from groundbreaking inventions by solar queen Mária Telkes to the experimental designs of Michael Jantzen, and from solar-integrated architecture by Jessenvollenweider to the creative ideas of movements such as Solar Power for Artists and Solar Mamas. The Energy Show also includes work by solar designers Marjan van Aubel and Pauline van Dongen, art director Mirka Laura Severa, and designers and storytellers Alice Wong and Crys Leung.
The Energy Show is part of the first edition of The Solar Biennale, for which Het Nieuwe Instituut is the partner and main venue. This international event helps people experience how solar energy can become a natural part of their daily lives in a post-fossil fuel future. Rotterdam hosts the biennial between September and October 2022, and Het Nieuwe Instituut will also focus its annual contribution to June's Salone del Mobile design fair in Milan on the theme of solar design.
Impact of solar energy
Arranged chronologically, The Energy Show takes visitors on a journey through the history of the sun. In brightly decorated spaces, the audience is asked to first reflect on their own energy culture before being introduced to a diverse range of projects and objects related to solar technology, including several from the Museum of Solar Energy. This includes the first solar developments of the last century to future-oriented initiatives that can help with the energy transition. The Museum of Solar Energy not only highlights this wide-ranging theme from a technological and economic perspective, but also focuses on the ecological and social impact of solar energy through the work on display and personal questions for visitors.
Solar Ideas and a travelling kiosk
Matylda Krzykowski and Het Nieuwe Instituut want to offer visitors, practitioners and other interested parties the opportunity to share their own solar energy initiatives. One of the ways this is done is through Solar Ideas, an open call for objects, drawings, photographs, texts and other documents, a selection of which will be included in the exhibition. The open call is also part of the presentation in Milan during the Salone del Mobile design fair, from 7 to 12 June 2022. As the first iteration of The Energy Show, Het Nieuwe Instituut will present The Solar Energy Kiosk, a solar-powered installation developed by Rotterdam-based design studio Cream on Chrome. The Solar Energy Kiosk opens a dialogue on solar energy and solar design, and is also a drop-off station for objects and ideas on the topic. After Milan, the kiosk will travel to different locations, including The Energy Show at Het Nieuwe Instituut.
The Solar Biennale
Initiated by solar designers Marjan van Aubel and Pauline van Dongen, The Solar Biennale critically reflects on the use of solar energy and the prevailing technological and economic perspectives surrounding its use. For six weeks, the biennial focuses on the human side: a solar-powered world goes beyond scientific research and uniform solar panels. Cultural practices and location-based energy needs will help shape a post-fossil fuel future. In September and October 2022, The Solar Biennale in Rotterdam will present a variety of programmes inviting designers, scientists, solar industry practitioners and policymakers to formulate answers and exchange ideas. The Solar Biennale will open at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and will conclude at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in October.
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Het Nieuwe Instituut is the Dutch national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture, based in Rotterdam. Through its exhibitions, public programs, research and wide-reaching national and international initiatives, the institute engages thinkers, designers, makers and diverse audiences to critically reflect on the urgent issues confronting the past, present and future. In addition to housing the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, the institute also operates the 1933 Sonneveld House as part of its campus in Rotterdam’s Museumpark.