The greatest inventions come from the simplest of ideas. No truer is this statement than when applied to home appliances.
All over the world there are scores of inventors trying to solve the daily problems of modern living with high tech gadgets that they hope will become a necessity for everyday life.
In a quest to find the next million dollar idea, home appliance company Electrolux, has invited industrial design students from all over the world to pitch daring ideas and solutions for tomorrow’s home appliances as part of their annual Electrolux Design Lab competition.
In order to witness what could possibly be the best darn kitchen appliance since the electric tin opener, I headed down to John Lewis’s flagship store on Oxford Street to see the prototypes of the eight finalists’ designs.
I was not disappointed with the imagination put into these products. I was particularly impressed with the robotic vacuum cleaner (at last, a shortcut to domestic goddess heaven!) and the portable hand-held washing machine, above, which erases food and drink stains while on the go (an absolute must-have for sloppy eaters).
But my utmost favourite, but completely bonkers design, was a bouncy ball food blender, below. The New Zealand made design, entitled the Smoobo Blender, combines a fun activity with a practical culinary appliance. Equipped with a battery powered rotary blade, the blender works when it’s thrown around, bouncing off walls and floors to mix up the contents. But would it actually work? This is probably the most likely concept in the competition that would, as it involves little high tech and more brute force.
If it is taken from a prototype to the real deal, let’s pray it’s robust enough to withstand the playful nature of a five-year-old, otherwise we’re going to need more than that portable washing machine to help with the clean-up!
I noticed that many of the concepts were compact versions of existing appliances, such as the hand-held portable microwave. This clever device enables users to cook ready-made meals on the go. Powered by paper batteries, this mini microwave simply clips onto the edge of a plastic ready-meal tray and then heat is pumped through the foil packaging.
The design’s portability makes it an ideal camping accessory and its sleek shape would suit those households with compact kitchens as it can be tidied away in a drawer and won’t use up precious counter space.
However, this downsizing of kitchen appliances is not due to some cute, miniature trend but a response to the reduction in our living spaces. A representative from Electrolux said houses of today ‘have to act like a Swiss army knife,’ as smaller living spaces force homeowners to fit three rooms into one – and apparently it’s only going to get worse!
This is not the premonition I had anticipated when I thought of my future home, which in my mind has at least 10 rooms and a floor space of around 32,000 square feet. Perhaps I better go mark out my territory and buy a field now, so with the aid of two tents I can at least have a selection of rooms for my high-tech, miniature kitchen appliances…
The final eight designs will be showcased at John Lewis, Oxford Street, until Monday and the winner will be announced at the Business Design Centre in Angel on September 7.
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