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Solar Style

Make an impact in your flat, on your balcony or patio, or in your garden with solar lighting! In addition to being energy and cost efficient, solar lighting offers plenty of stylish options sure to make a statement at your next gathering. We talked with one of our favourite solar light purveyors, Allsop Home and Garden, to find out what’s new and cool in solar lighting options. They’re right on the cutting edge of decorative solar products, so they had plenty to tell us.

Founded by the equally-stylish Jamey Allsop (now president of the company) and her father a decade ago, Allsop – hailing from the U.S. locale of Idaho – focus on creativity and uniqueness, qualities that shine through (pun intended) in their gorgeous solar lighting collections. They’ve been featured on NBC’s Good Morning America, in the Wall Street Journal, and feted by that paragon of preppy style, the one-and-only Martha Stewart (but don’t let that scare you away).

“Ten years later, we are still inspired to create the best, most innovative, and conscientious products possible,” Allsop says, “everything we create is designed by us, is unique to us, and we hold numerous patents on most of our products.”

While strings of solar lights and solar lanterns are becoming de rigueur in plenty of boutiques and even hardware stores worldwide, Allsop’s designs are distinctive in their glasswork and in their designs, which somehow manage to be simultaneously sleek/modern and bohemian-colourful at the same time.

“I have always been inspired by Chihuly’s glass art, and wanted to find a way to incorporate the concept of beautiful, hand-blown glass with the green, efficient technology of solar power,” Allsop explains. “Our first solar line, the Firefly Garden Stake, was born from this concept. Because of my background in Asian studies, it was a natural progression to move from garden stakes to hanging lanterns – our Soji lanterns were conceptualised on one of our many trips to Asia, and each lantern is crafted individually in a family-run and owned neighbourhood workshop in southeastern China. These workshops have been hand-making lanterns in the traditional Chinese style for hundreds of years.”

Allsop Home and Garden were kind enough to send us several complimentary lanterns, so that we could try them right outside our Pyxis Magazine offices. (And yes, they’re being fought over already.) The versatile Kenzo showcases the Asian style that Jamey Allsop mentioned above, with its beehive shape, white and silver colouring, and ability to morph from a hanging lantern to a table lamp to a garden stake. We hung ours (see below) from a tree branch in blustery winds, and were pleased to note it held up beautifully, keeping its shape and putting forth a calm, pretty radiance once dusk fell. All of Allsop’s lanterns are easy to use – a simple switch allows you flip the light itself off or on, and compact solar panels soak up the sun for power.

Another standout item in Allsop’s solar line are their hand-blown, mercury glass Solar Tea Votives, which are available in White, Mint, and Saffron as well as their striking Metallic series (pictured are Honey Pot and Silver Dented.) These are so charming both in shape and in the subtle glow they deliver once it’s dark – and again, that versatility shows up, as you can use one Solar Tea Votive on its own for a striking accent, or group them (as seen below) for an even bigger design impact.

“By using creative materials and combining them with green solar technology and efficient LED lighting, each handcrafted product is a work of art in itself,” Allsop says proudly.

Allsop Home and Garden’s line of solar works looks to expand even farther in 2013, with more design-forward choices perfect for every city and every setting. Their popular Aurora Glow String Lights, ideal for stringing between two trees or above a small table on a city balcony, are now available in several different colours (including metallic, below.)

Their printed lanterns recently welcomed the Lime Leaf, Retro Star, and Floral Bloom patterns. And – fortunately for all the solar lighting fans out there – Allsop plans to keep adding even more options to their various lines.

“Next year will be a big one for us, with the launch of several new innovative styles,” Allsop says. “We will be expanding upon our use of unique materials and finishes, including metalized Tyvek and bubble glass, more hand-blown glass votives, and updated on-trend printed hanging lanterns.”

As you can read (and see) here, Allsop Solar is fashion-forward, cool, and bright. What better way to light your night? We approve.   – Kristi Kates