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Electrolux Design Lab 2011

September 2, 2011


Last year I wrote about the annual Electrolux Design Lab contest in a post entitled Designing the Future. The design I liked just happened to win last year’s contest. The winner was Peter Alwin from India whose design was called “The Snail.” You can watch the video below to see how it works. Concerning “The Snail,” I wrote: “I like this idea — especially for people living by themselves. Some elderly people not only cook in small amounts, but using appliances like a gas stove raises safety issues. The Snail eliminates those hazards and permits people to cook in small quantities with confidence.”



This year’s theme is “intelligent mobility.” The contest’s judges have, once again, reduced over 1300 entries down to eight finalists. The following graphic contains pictures of the finalists’ entries (the numbers correspond to the descriptions of the entries found below). The descriptions are taken from Electrolux Design Lab 2011 website.


1. Mobile Induction Heat Plate — Designed by Tommi Moilanen, a student at Aalto University School of Art and Design in Finland, the Mobile Induction Heat Plate is a smart induction cooker. Concerning his design, Moilanen stated, “I … wanted to bring more flexibility into cooking. Why should you always have to cook in the same place and why should the standard heat plates usually found on a conventional oven, occupy counter space even when not in use. That would be the case in small kitchens. If you have a big kitchen the Mobile Induction Heat Plate could be an additional appliance for the dinner table or for when on the go.”

I think this is a very clever design and one of my top two favorites. It has promise for use in both the developed and developing worlds.

2. Smoobo Blender — Designed by Roseanne de Bruin, a student at Massey University in New Zealand, the Smoobo blender is a fun and environmentally friendly way of making smoothies. Concerning her design, de Bruin stated: “My goal from the beginning was to create something fun and inspiring. I was on my break at work, sitting in the park drinking a thick shake I just bought from the local dairy. A kid, around 7 years old, runs into the playground, basketball in hand. He was so happy! His eyes lit up as he bounced the ball to his father. The thought came to me, wouldn’t it be cool if there were a way to get children to be more enthusiastic about healthy eating? Wouldn’t it be even better if this idea also encouraged the kids to help their parents with preparing food? That’s when it hit me… A blender in a bouncy ball!”

Electrolux is allowing the public to vote on the designs this year to determine a “People’s Choice” champion. From what I gather, the Smoobo is attracting a lot of votes. Although it’s not one of my favorites, it may be one of yours.

3. The Onda — Designed by Matthew Schwartz, a student at California State University Long Beach, the Onda is a portable microwave oven. Concerning his design, Schwartz stated: “I wanted to create a product that is simple and intuitive enough so that someone familiar with a traditional microwave can operate the Onda Portable Microwave. The function and operation is the same as with traditional microwaves, but on a much smaller scale.”

Although this is a clever idea, the big drawback for me is that it can only be used with specially packaged dinners (which adds to the cost of meals). Aside from that, it certainly fits the theme of intelligent mobility.

4. The Robo Tap — Designed by Gyu Ha Choi, a student at Handong Global University in South Korea, the Robo Tap is a smart evolution of the robotic vacuum cleaner. Concerning his design, Choi stated: “I obtained the inspiration from one word. There is a word, bal-dojang (foot-stamp), which is the compound of foot (bal) and stamp (dojang) in Korea. It has the meaning of ‘to leave my trace for someone’. I drew the concept from the idea, ‘how about showing the foot-stamp as a clean space’.”

If you like robotic vacuum cleaners, you should love this design. By tapping your foot twice, you can direct the Robo Tap to an area that needs cleaning. Tap your foot twice a second time and the order is cancelled. Tap your foot three times and the Robo Tap goes back to its regularly scheduled programming.

5. The Ribbon — Designed by Enzo Kocak, a student at Monash University in Australia, the Ribbon is an all-in-one hotplate, warming device and cooler for portable use. Concerning his design, Kocak stated: “My inspiration came from observing the restless, ever-changing lives of those around me. I wanted to create something that bends and flows with the chaos both aesthetically and functionally.”

The battery-operated Ribbon is a very cool (no pun intended) idea — a top three candidate in my book. Not only does the Ribbon both heat and cool, you have “the option of charging the device when not in use by allowing the thermoelectric cells to absorb excess heat (whether from sunlight or a hot pot) making it an environmentally-friendly design as well.

6. Salvé Bagel Toaster — Designed by Kent Madden, a student at Carleton University in Canada, the Salvé Bagel Toaster is a desktop appliance that does exactly what its name implies — toasts bagels. Concerning his design, Madden stated: “I remember seeing a Compact Disc player concept a few years ago which simply gripped the CD and spun it, reading it within its grasp (similar to the Salvé). It captured my attention and made me ask, ‘Why is it necessary to use so much material when we have the technology to use far less?’ … I was looking to veer away from the classic top-loading toaster found saturating the market today. … I want my design to grab the attention of consumers and offer them something fresh that they had never seen.”

The Salvé Bagel Toaster is one of those gadgets that you would buy for the person who already has everything. He or she certainly won’t have one of these. I like Madden’s minimalist leanings.

7. The Spot Cleaner — Designed by Adrian Mankovecký, a student at Academy of Fine Arts and Design Bratislava, the Spot Cleaner is a portable cleaning concept. Concerning his design, Mankovecký stated: “One day I dressed in my favorite shirt and few minutes later I had a coffee stain on it. It was unnecessary to put it into the washing machine because it was only a small blemish. Then I started to think about a portable cleaner to solve this problem. … This concept is designed for people who are travelling a lot. … Four pre-installed cleaning programs are available for quick use. The small size makes it easy to transfer. A combination of steam and negative ions is used within the cleaning process, which is very ecological because it uses little electricity and recycled materials. If you have a stain on your favorite [item of clothing] you do not have to look for a place where you can wash it. With the portable spot cleaner you can do it anywhere.”

Perhaps it’s just because I travel a lot, but the Spot Cleaner is my favorite item this year. I find it amazing how many items of food actually have the potential to drip while being consumed. Good luck Adrian!

8. Sous-vide Cell Cooker — Designed by Adam Miklosi, a student at University of West Hungary – Institute of Applied Arts, the Sous-vide Cell Cooker is a concept inspired by the professional trend of slow food cooking. Concerning his design, Miklosi stated: “I imagined intelligent mobility as constantly being on the move. As first my inspiration, the way nomad folks lived, their persistent migration and various food-cooking and preservation methods used by them, determined my concept. I drew a parallel between classical nomadic and ‘urban nomadic’ migration (home-workplace). The nomadic philosophy of lifestyle constituted the basis of my work later: ‘quantity of food to be enough for one eating’ and ‘possible omission of preservation.’ … As regards to appearance, basic geometric shapes, cell structures, and the shape of plankton inspired me.”

The Sous-vide Cell Cooker requires the food being prepared to be in vacuum-sealed pouches. Nevertheless, for someone living alone and having limited space, the Sous-vide Cell Cooker is a great idea and design.


If you want to watch short (approximately 40 second) clips about these designs, click on the Electrolux Design Lab link provided above. According to the site, “The Eight finalists will each present their concept at the Business Design Centre, London on September 7th 2011. The jury will consider entries based on intuitive design, innovation and consumer insight when awarding the first prize of a six-month paid internship at an Electrolux global design center and 5,000 Euros. A second prize of 3,000 Euros and third prize of 2,000 Euros are also on offer.” Good luck to all the finalists.

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