Those who look deeply into the future, predict that by the year 2050, approximately 74 percent of the world’s population will live in urban settings. Such urbanization would put living space at a premium and require more compact living arrangements. In light of this, Electrolux issued the mandate of “Compact Living” for its 2010 Design Lab competition. Competitors were asked to envision space saving ways of storing and preparing food, washing clothes and doing dishes among other things. The competition attracted 1,300 entries of which there were eight finalists. New ways of thinking were applied to products that re-imagined the way we use water, among other things.
As designers envisioned it, the refrigerator of the future could be something attached to the exterior of the building, drawing energy from the sun, for example. Or it could be something in the “bio-robot” category, where there are no doors, motors or drawers. A gel would morph itself around foodstuff, keeping it at the correct temperature. Such a device could be anywhere, even hanging from the ceiling. The problem of laundry would be solved with a scientific closet where sensors would detect and remove dirt from clothes while it’s hanging in the closet. Otherwise there would be a capsule that could be attached to a wall-mounted, steaming device.
The winner of it all is something called The Snail from Peter Alwin of the National Institute of Design in India. Presumably the Snail will be an Electrolux, pocket-sized appliance. It could be attached to any cooking device to provide heat by a magnetic induction process. Stick it to a pot, pan or mug and it would heat the contents to the required doneness. Some take issue with the science involved but like the smart phone, it could revolutionize meal preparation. Imagine a dinner party where each guest gets a Snail that is attached to the plate. Select ingredients, and dinner cooks while guests chat at the table.
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