The installation “8 minutes and 20 seconds” by Marjan van Aubel with Lexus stands as our paramount solar spectacle. Dutch solar designer Marjan van Aubel has orchestrated an interactive installation in Miami to unveil the new zero-emission LF-ZC concept car by Lexus.
With grand-scale projects like last year’s Solar Biennale and the renowned Sunne lamp, designer Marjan van Aubel has asserted her dominance in the industry. This mathematician has tirelessly worked to push solar energy production in new directions through her own endeavors, all while exploring the potential of its expanded application. It’s not surprising that when the Japanese luxury car manufacturer Lexus sought the Dutch talent to develop its installation for the Miami Art & Design Week 2023 (on display last December), she chose to create an exhibition not only inspired but also fueled by this unprecedented technological evolution. The project clinches the award for the best solar roll at the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2024.
Named after the time it takes for sunlight to reach Earth, 8 minutes and 20 seconds features a visually informative representation of Lexus Future Zero-emission Catalyst (LF-ZC) concept car with zero emissions – a version of which is set to hit the market in 2026. Ten translucent canvases align to delineate the scale of the sculptural and high-performance vehicle.
Below, a glimpse of the LF-ZC’s thin and complete EV chassis battery illuminates at different intervals. As if that weren’t enough, the ephemeral experience is complemented by a sound installation; an ambient melody accentuated with bird songs and bamboo notes. The car’s interior is expected to be equipped with precision materials almost purely derived from regenerative wood.
The designer worked closely with the spatial design and experience company Random Studio, based in Amsterdam, to bring her concept to life. Even though the road version of this vehicle may not necessarily directly operate with integrated solar cell technology, van Aubel hopes that driving fully autonomous cars will soon become a possibility.
“In discussing with Viviana Hohenstein, Lexus’ color and sensory designer, on how she envisioned what it would be like to sit inside the vehicle, she described that there was a lot of glass, and the driver was positioned slightly lower, like in a sports car,” said van Aubel.
“I thought of creating something life-sized that would be an illusion; a 2D representation of a 3D car cut into several parts.
During the day, the installation takes on graphic qualities while becoming more performative at dusk. Third-generation organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar cells, integrated at the front and back, provide substantial energy to power a fully immersive showcase at night. Various lights animate the “cross-section” leaves when visitors activate different sensors.
“What’s great about this installation is that it shows how solar technology can also be attractive and applied to an aesthetic form, a high-end Lexus car for example,” explains Van Aubel.