Solar Power Pops

I just designed a bright orange popsicle truck that evangelizes solar energy. It is actually a popsicle truck covered in popsicle-shaped-infographics about solar energy that distributes free popsicles!

The multitasking contraption also runs off of solar energy when stopped, effectively demonstrating how solar can power the activity of a bustling kitchen.

This fun project, lead by Jason Anello, is going to roll towns wherein this solar power company (Sungevity) operates and hand out free, artisanally-made popsicles to the energy- (and apparently popsicle-) consuming public. With any luck, the combination of sugar, facts, and the threat-of-humanity’s-self-inflicted-demise-owing-to-dirty-energy will be persuasive enough to get some people off the grid.

Jason brought me into the fold after he was already sourcing parts. Although the truck looks like it must have been born this way, it actually began life as a standard-issue mail truck:

Jason had a chop shop change the shape of the front, drop the entire truck down a few inches, and outfit it with solar power. He also added “leveling” hydraulics to avoid the truck-tilt caused by the convex banking streets (a phenomenon that imbues the onlooker with a sense of psychological dread tantamount to being on the leaning side of a Richard Serra.) A press of the keyfob ceremoniously erects the solar panels and serving windows in a slow, majestic sort of levitation/transformation—much like the batmobile (or one of those -mobiles.) I’m not much of a car person, but even I know that this is fancy.

Check out Jason’s documentation video, which showcases his attention to detail with this thing:

As people queue around the truck, they are brought into close range of the infographics. The statistics are incredible. They quickly reveal that the amount of energy needed to fuel all human activity is trivial when compared to the amount of energy in a day’s worth of sunlight. And yet, solar accounts for less than 1% of all energy in the U.S (thanks, coal lobby…)

The entire truck was designed and assembled in 6 weeks. I took two different design approaches for the graphics (which were developed before we knew the actual dimensions of the truck, so the components had to remain relatively flexible.)

The first approach utilized the surface of the truck to diagram its the energy-producing activity, (showing how solar works):

Since this solar company, Sungevity, is grid-tied, the diagram also shows how excess solar is fed back into the grid, and how energy can also be pulled from the grid when necessary—essentially using the grid like a battery. I found the logic of this process elegant, and was excited to showcase it, but the strange shape of the truck called for much cleaner lines than the diagram required.

The second approach was to place a stripe of popsicle infographics around the truck.

This clean line seemed to bring order to an otherwise strangely-shaped canvas, while also introducing color. Since the truck will be experienced at a variety of distances, the fact that it moves conceptually from “colorful stripe” to “popsicles” to “infographics” with diminishing distance is pleasing. The infographic-pops allow for a lot of different types of solar power information in a very small space, which is probably more useful to the consumer than the nuts and bolts of how solar power works.

The truck was in NYC this week, but it is now headed to Boston, Take a look at Sungevity’s twitter feed for their exact location and go grab a free popsicle!

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Comments

33 Responses to “Solar Power Pops”
  1. daniel says:

    It looks so good! And I was fortunate enough to have been able to try some of the popsicles and I’m pleased to report they were as delicious as the truck looks!

  2. Pavel Pavlov says:

    Great idea and execution!

  3. dottie says:

    The color palette used was inspired…sunny, saturated colors without being garish. I liked the graphics around the headlights a lot. Sungevity has a great idea. I learned a lot from reading the popsicle graphics on the truck’s side. How many cities they will visit?

    • Kelli says:

      Hi Dottie! Thanks. Not sure how many cities they will visit. I’m sure it will have a long life (based on the quantity of popsicles that they ordered)

  4. Ralph says:

    Wonderful way to educate. Using a solar charged swappable battery to power the truck motor might be a realistic improvement to the design. More practicing what is preached.
    If the ice cream business had a “normal” route. The solar truckports could be advantageously placed to allow for the quick swaps. Much like the Japanese taxi company is developing (similar to Israeli solar infrastructure).

    Love the spirit!

  5. Jag Nagra says:

    WOW, this is stunning. The graphics, typography and colours are simply incredible—and of course immediately identifiable as a Kelli-Anderson-design. Great work!

  6. Bradi Wells says:

    Whoa, this is brilliant! Of course, just the truck itself is awesome (and don’t I feel like a more educated individual now?), but I’m absolutely in the love with the design of it. Very nice.

  7. Rich says:

    What a great project, really like the design and the concept is inspirational.

  8. Anita Eradla says:

    Kelly LOVE your designs. I am curious how long do you take to do one infographic and what is your process like?

    • Kelli says:

      Thanks Anita! The infographic work seems to vary pretty wildly in time and complexity. For the popsicle-infographics, I didn’t really spend longer than about an hour- hour and a half on each popsicle. But for the long, complicated (and ever-changing) 2012 Airbnb infographic, I think I spent like 40-50 hours on that. Thanks again!

  9. Only 4% would power our entire world? Wow! Look at NASA, when a new satellite goes up, what does it get? Solar panels. So, why isn’t 4% of our world covered yet? Duh. The powers that be will never allow it. They’d lose money.

  10. Andrew Long says:

    Just a quick note. One of the infographics on this truck states that the Sun is “393 million miles” from the Earth. This is incorrect. The correct figure is 93 million miles. I can see this mistake harming the solar company’s credibility if a keen observer picks this out!

    Otherwise, this is a beautiful design job!

  11. Heather says:

    I super super love this design, which is why I recognized it when I visited this blog: http://grizandnorm.tumblr.com
    Just a heads up! Someone likes your type!

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