Unilever places worlds first glow-in-the-dark company signage on Hive building

Published on
March 26, 2021

Unilever will place a logo signage at Hive that glows in the dark and does not consume electricity to light up. It is made from phosphorescent pigments and is environmentally and human-friendly.

Over the past 3 years, Leonard Flendrig - Lead Scientist Structuring at Unilever - has been working on a rather special project. Glowing in the darkness of the Wageningen Campus, Hive has now a Unilever signage of 9 square meters.

Sustainable workplace

Hive is designed to be one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. Solar panels, sustainable materials and reused toilet water are just a few examples of the sustainable aspects that Hive is built on. In 2017, Leonard joined a Sustainability Workstream in which ideas were raised on how to make the new Foods Innovation Centre in Wageningen (Hive) the most sustainable workplace. It struck Leonard that all over the world there are billions of electrically lit company signages and advertisement boards consuming electricity day-in and day-out, disturbing animal nightlife and costing money. “Would it not be possible to design a signage that could shine without electricity?” he thought. He took on the challenge to spend his spare time to work on a solution.

From logo to Startup

Three challenging years later (testing glowing materials at night with his 77-year-old brother-in-law and ex-Greenpeace worker, dealing with shipping from the UK and the Brexit) Unilever finally has the world’s first glow-in-the-dark company sign that uses no electricity and is only fuelled by daylight. Using phosphorescent pigments, it flows with the weather and shows a little less light on gloomy days, and a bright light on sunny days. 


Phosphorescent materials are safe to the environment and can absorb light during the day and release it again after sundown. Just like windmills and solar panels their performance follows weather and seasonal changes. By combining state-of-the-art technologies, we’ve been able to create outdoor signages that can visually glow at night in the presence of artificial light sources from buildings and streetlights. During the night, the glow naturally fades without disturbing animal nightlife.

Leonard Flendrig decided to turn this success into a business. His startup NaturalGlow Signage provides an eco-friendly way to illuminate company signages based on phosphorescence, also known as glow-in-the-dark.