On July 14, Electrolux announced the eight finalists in the 2010 edition of its annual Electrolux Design Lab competition. This year, industrial design students were challenged to come up with appliance concepts for compact living in 2050, when, according to Electrolux, 74% of the global population is predicted to live in an urban environment.
Below are a selection of the concepts designed specifically for future kitchens.
The Bio Robot Refrigerator (above), by Yuriy Dmitriev, Russia, is four times smaller than a conventional refrigerator and uses a biopolymer gel to keep food cool through luminescence. There are no shelves or doors in this cold blob of green jelly:
Rather than shelves, the non sticky, odourless gel morphs around products to create a separate pod that suspends items for easy access. Without doors, draws and a motor 90% of the appliance is solely given over to its intended purpose. At the same time, all food, drink and cooled products are readily available, odours are contained, and items are kept individually at their optimal temperature by bio robots. The fridge is adaptable – it can be hung vertically, horizontally, and even on the ceiling.
The Kitchen Hideaway, by Daniel Dobrogorsky, Australia, is a concept for virtual reality cooking in a communal living environment:
[It] allows the inhabitants of a communal building to imagine being in a kitchen, preparing a particular meal rather than having to actually do this for themselves. The thoughts of the user are then transmitted to robotic chefs within the building who then prepare the visualised meal in a real kitchen and with real ingredients. In effect, the headset replaces the need for kitchen appliances in individual dwellings, saving space through creative thinking.
The Elements Modular Kitchen, by Matthew Gilbride, US, turns wall-mounted shelving into cooking and refrigeration surfaces:
[This] wall-mounted appliance provides flexible modes of cooking, refrigeration, air conditioning, lighting, and environmental design whilst reducing space. The appliance draws power wirelessly through technology applied to the wall, which is supplemented through solar energy as required. Multiple units and surfaces automatically work together through wireless smart networking, whilst customisation is offered by being able to install the units as the user prefers.
The concept for the External Refrigerator, by Nicolas Hubert, France, is inspired by apartment buildings in Northern China, where residents often stored their food on balconies
Two years in China provided the inspiration for Nicolas Hubert’s external refrigerator. Fixed directly on the outside wall of residential buildings, the concept is an elaboration on a way of life in northern China where food is kept on balconies in the winter to save space and energy. During cold seasons and at night, the low external temperatures are used to provide the right climate for items in the fridge. During warmer weather, the sun is used to transform light into energy through solar panels.
The Eco Cleaner, by Ahi Andy Mohsen, Iran, is a portable, compact dishwasher and composter that uses ultrasonic waves to ionize food and turn it in to reusable waste. Unfortunately, the design relies on the idea that future food will come in a "capsule form." Bummer.
Ahi Andy Mohsen’s concept is designed for use within the increasing numbers of single households and specifically meeting dual predictions: that future food will be supplied in capsule form (thus reducing the required size of vessels to prepare and eat from); and that there will be reduced time for household chores. The Eco Cleaner is simultaneously green and space efficient.