Portable Light

Empower People.

The Portable Light Project enables people in the developing world to create and own energy harvesting textiles, providing the benefits of renewable power as an integral part of everyday life.

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The Portable Light project began with a question, a prototype and a vision. What if light and energy were dissolved into a portable textile? Physically flexible and conceptually supple, this soft infrastructure could shift shape and adapt itself to textile practices in diverse cultures around the world. In 2004, the first Light Mat prototypes were created and in 2005, the project was launched. As the Saarinen Professors at the University of Michigan, KVA Matx Principals Sheila Kennedy and Juan Frano Violich led a group of students in a design studio/workshop that explored four energy harvesting textile designs. The studio travelled to the Sierra Madre in Mexico, and presented their findings to Wixarika community leaders, in collaboration with the NGO Centro Huichol. The positive reception, insights and advice led to many engineering revisions and new design directions over the years as the Portable Light Project has been serving communities in the Sierra Madre since 2006.

Today, The Portable Light Project is a non-profit research and design initiative established by KVA Matx that includes designers, engineers, medical doctors, policy makers, community leaders and anthropologists. The Portable Light Project works with NGO partners, foundations and business leaders with projects underway in Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil (Amazon), Venezuela (Amazon) and South Africa.

To visit our old site and take an interactive flash tour of the project’s research and development over the last few years click here.


The Global Journal / Let There Be (Portable) Light
The Tech Awards / The Portable Light Project Mashable / Portable Light Brings Cheap Energy to Developing World
The Global Journal / #84 - Portable Light Project
The Buckminster Fuller Challange / 2012 Semi-Finalist Portable Light

Design for the Other 90% / Sierra Portable Light Project
The Guardian / Solar Textiles Bring Light to Remote Villages
Inter-American Development Bank / BR-T1198 : Portable Light Project Brazil

SmartPlanet / Portable Light Project: With Textiles and Tech, Artificial Illumination for the World

Fast Company / Inside PopTech's Solar-Powered Bag FLAP: Joining Forces With the Portable Light Project
Fast Company / Inside PopTech's Solar-Powered Bag FLAP: Testing Across Africa
Treehugger / Sheila Kennedy and the Portable Light Project
MIT School of Architecture + Planning / Portable Light Project Wins International Award

MIT News / Kennedy's Portable Light Wins Tech Award

Talento Ambiental / Luz Portátil