With NY Design Week 2013 about to kick into full swing, I’ve found myself thinking back to highlights from last year’s Big Apple design bonanza.

Although I stumbled across a decent amount of excellent sustainable product design at NY Design Week 2012 — kitchen tiles made from junked skateboards! Emeco chairs made from sawdust! — I keep on returning to Danielle Trofe’s Live Screen, a vertical hydroponic gardening system geared toward space-sensitive indoor environments that made its international debut at WantedDesign, a fabulous ICFF satellite exhibition that’s now in its third year. It made a lasting impression.

That being said, I’m happy to hear that Brooklyn-based, sustainability-minded Trofe will be returning to WantedDesign this year not with another indoor gardening solution but with an intriguing new off-the-grid lighting collection dubbed Sand & Solar. (Hat tip to Inhabitat that, for better or worse, has been previewing everything showing at NY Design Week). I’m going to refrain from covering green-minded NY Design Week highlights prematurely but I thought Sand & Solar deserved a brief sneak peek.

Generating pretty much zero environmental impact but giving your wrist a nice workout, the centerpiece of Sand & Solar is a duo of Hourglass LED Lamps that harness the kinetic energy derived by falling sand. As the sand within the hourglasses slowly trickles, the resulting energy is converted into electricity that powers the lamps.

Light about to run out? Simply flip the lamp for continued illumination. For the collection, Trofe has created both a table lamp (pictured up top) and a four-foot-tall floor lamp (pictured below) to create directional and ambient light, respectively. “Physical engagement with the lights creates a user connection and a greater awareness of the value and finite source of light energy,” reads an official NY Design Week description of Solar & Sand.

Head on over to the NY Design Week 2013 website (now official and rebranded!) for more on what to expect in the coming days if you plan on attending any events.  I’ll be heading to a resurrected BKLYN Design this weekend followed by ICFF, WantedDesign, and other satellite events later next week.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

NY Design Week teaser: Stylish LED lamps powered by falling sand
Danielle Trofe returns to WantedDesign with a duo of LED lamp-hourglass hybrids that stay illuminated via the kinetic energy produced by falling sand.