December 3, 2007 Electrolux Design Lab 07 was the fifth edition of Electrolux’s annual initiative aimed to encourage the design of eco-friendly and sustainable household appliances. Winners of the year’s competition have been announced with finalists from Hungary, France and China in first, second and third place respectively.

Hundreds of industrial design students from around the globe entered the competition, presenting their ideas on environmentally friendly household appliances and solutions for the year 2020. The finalists’ submissions included a water-saving shower, an eco-solar aircleaner and an automatic food composter.

The winning design, from Levente Szabó of Moholy-Nagy University of Art & Design in Hungary, was a compact washing machine that uses soap nuts instead of detergent. The “E-wash” took inspiration from India and Nepal where people have used the soap nut (sapindus mucorossi) for centuries to clean their clothes. Szabó says that a kilogram of soap nuts would last the typical person a year, and soap nuts are good for people with allergies and gentle on clothes. Szabó says that his starting point was the polluting effect of both the washing process and the production, packaging and transportation of the detergent. “I was looking for a substance that could replace the detergent.”

The award for second place went to the Pebble, a portable, solar food cooker, by Laura Pandelle from École Boulle, France. Using cutting-edge solar technology and induction heat for almost instantaneous heat transfer, the Pebble aims to combine sustainability with modern, urban lifestyles. The Pebble demonstrates that photovoltaic energy doesn’t just come from big panels in the roof but can be incorporated in the kitchen via spray-on solar cells, a technology now under development. Pandelle says she was “inspired by the fact that we use very powerful appliances for little uses, in particularly in the kitchen.”

Third place went to Go Fresh, an energy-saving fridge, by He Cheng Fei from Jiangnan University, China. The radical design proposes a refrigerator that is composed of a main frame that produces cold air for 12 individual, temperature-controlled cells much like the cells of a honeycomb. When the cell reaches the correct temperature, the cold air inlet closes automatically, thereby saving energy.

Winners of the Electrolux Design Lab 07 were selected by an internationally renowned panel from the environmental, design and technology communities including Senior President of Global Design at Electrolux Henrik Otto, award winning French industrial designer Matali Crasset and international environmental activist Celine Cousteau.

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