The 25 semi-finalists in this year's Electrolux Design Lab competition have now been announced. Every year, students and recent graduates are invited to submit design concepts that tie in with the chosen theme of the challenge. This year's Design Lab is all about Intelligent Mobility for domestic appliances and has attracted 1,300 entries from over 50 countries. We'll be taking a closer look at some of the entries in the coming weeks but for now, here's a quick look at some of those that have caught my eye.

The young designers in this year's competition have all been asked for their thoughts on shaping "how people prepare and store food, clean and do their dishes, both within and beyond the home." The ultimate winner of Design Lab 2011 will walk away with EUR 5,000 (US$7,085) and a 6-month internship at one of the company's designs centers. A runner up will get EUR 3,000 (US$4,251) and the third place prize is awarded EUR 2,000 (US$2,833). The final eight will be revealed next month but before then, here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

The Marble

I love to cook but find baking a chore. With this concept, you just put the ingredients into a bowl and then throw in a Marble or two to take care of the mixing. The device is made from an ultra-polished polymer that will resist any attempts that food may make to cling to it and there's a nano-rubber mixing blade - which is soft to the touch when inactive but becomes a force to be reckoned with when spinning.

Designer: Eduardo Murara Nauiack
School: Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná - PUCPR, Brazil


We're always receptive to robotic vacuum cleaner designs at Gizmag. With this design, a wireless control module is placed on a user's slipper or shoe and with a quick tap of the foot, the cleaner can be instructed to stop what it's doing and pay some special attention to that spot. Otherwise, the designer says that TAP would use an indoor positioning system to map out rooms and clean using patterned room cleaning routines. I can't wait to see the TV advert for this one - perhaps a mixture of that awful Shake n Vac advert and some sort of Steve Condos tap dance routine.

Designer: Gyu Ha Choi
School: Handong Global University, South Korea

Smoobo Blender

This looks like a great way to get the kids involved in making your smoothies. You'd pop some favored ingredients into the middle of the Smoobo, seal the rubber ball and let the young ones bounce it around until your refreshing pick-me-up is ready. Kinetic batteries would spin the rotor blades inside and Smoobo's knobbly surface will result in each bounce sending the device in a different direction, which should keep the little ones amused for a while.

Designer: Roseanne de Bruin
School: Massey University, New Zealand

Breez Portable Dish Dryer

If, like me, you wash your dishes by hand then Breez could help take some of the strain out of the laborious process. A user would pass the hand-washed and rinsed plate through the upper and lower arms of the device to air dry it and so avoid leaving microbes on the plates by using any old cloth that happens to be available. I have a nasty feeling that the fast-flowing air being directed at the plate may result in some handling or balance difficulties hopefully any such problems would be remedied at a later stage in the design process.

Designer: Andrew Parsons
School: Humber College, Canada

Heat Grenade

This portable cooking device is said to be powered by moisture-absorbing, paper-thin batteries. It's an aluminum egg which folds out into a cross with the induction heating elements facing upwards and a control interface pulling out from one of the wings.

Designer: Sam Evans
School: Massey University, New Zealand


Although a rather unfortunate shaping choice, Wave senses exactly how dirty your clothes are and will assist in the washing and drying process to help cut down on detergent and water use. It will even act as a communication bridge between your smartphone and your washing machine when it's docked.

Designer: Kim Min Seok
School: Seoul National University of Technology & Science, South Korea

Onda Portable Microwave

A novel take on TV dinners. Pre-prepared meal packs are snap-loaded into the Onda device. This creates a circuit that allows the device to cook the food inside the pack. The designer says that it will run on paper batteries.

Designer: Matthew Schwartz
School: California State University Long Beach, USA

Portable Washing Machine

This concept follows a similar line to those devices where you can clean the inside and outside of windows using a two-part device like the Windoro. An item of soiled clothing is placed between the two components of this travel-friendly washing machine and the user can then choose between four washing programs. Cleaning is achieved using negative ions and steam which shift the dirt as the user moves the Portable Washing Machine around the surface of the garment. The designer says that it will be powered by a sugar crystal battery.

Designer: Adrian Mankovecky
School: Academy of Fine Arts and Design Bratislava, Solvakia

Well, there's my top eight. Which would be your choice and why? Let us know in the comments.

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