Do you ever wonder just where your appliances come from? Who cooks up the latest and greatest ideas for new tools and gadgets? We're at an event this week in Milan, Italy, designed to encourage the newest talents in the field of appliance and home design: the Electrolux Design Lab. This competition brings together student designers from all over the world, and a lucky few have their own prototypes on display. Want to see a few of our favorites?
Australian student designer Amy Liu with her finalist design,
Treat, a modular food storage (and make-ahead meal) appliance.
Every year Electrolux, a Swedish appliance maker, runs this competition to encourage young designers to envision the future of technology in the home.
This year is the 10th anniversary of the Design Lab, and so they've flown several of us to Milan to attend the festivities. The winner of the contest receives prize money and an internship at the Electrolux design center.
I came along because I am so interested to see how young designers, just starting out, think about design and the future of appliances.
The Easystir, a pot-stirring tool from Lisa Frodadottir Lastad of Norway.
Some of the student designers' ideas are far-fetched in the best ways (A fast prototyper for food, refiguring flavor molecules out of water and air! A plate that translates the tastes of food into sound!), imagining fun and unlooked for possibilities for future technology. Other finalists are very practical, reimagining how food is stored, or how food is stirred on the stovetop. Many of the designs are food or cooking related, showing again how important this area of the home is in design.
All of the designs are mocked up as prototypes, since most of them call for technology that is still a step or two away. This just makes the designs more interesting, as I listen to and watch enthusiastic young designers describe concepts and uses that I hadn't even imagined.
While many of these tools seem far off, who knows what the next big thing will be? What kind of appliance will be the game changer for the home kitchen in the next 20 years?
UPDATED: The winners and finalists! Our favorite pick, a great refrigerator concept from Ben de la Roche of New Zealand, won a runner-up prize. The grand prize winner was the Aeroball, a beautiful (yes, beautiful!) air freshener ball that floats through the air, gathering bits of dust, designed by Jan Ankiersztajn, a student from Poland.
(Images: Faith Durand)