It’s down to the final eight in the Electrolux Design Lab 2010 competition. Around 1,300 designers from all over the globe entered the competition this year, with the brief being to create space-saving home appliances that would be suited to life in the heavily-populated urban environments expected by 2050. The finalists will present their designs to a jury in London on the 23rd of September with cash prizes and an opportunity of a six month paid internship at an Electrolux global design center up for grabs. Will it be the virtual kitchen helmet, the gel refrigerator or the portable ultrasonic dishwasher that impresses the judges, or will it be one of the other five fantastically futuristic designs?

The eight have been chosen from the 25 semi finalists announced in June. Last year’s winner - the Cocoon - was a conceptual cooker that “created” meat and fish and, by the look of this year’s creations, the final eight designers have been just as forward-thinking.

Kitchen Hideaway

The Kitchen Hideaway by Daniel Dobrogorsky from Australia is a virtual-reality concept that sees you turning your thoughts about your next meal into real food. You simply think of what you might like to eat, your thoughts are transmitted to a team of robotic chefs contained within your communal building and voila – they prepare the meal you just dreamt of – in a real kitchen with real food. Just try not to think of a hamburger and fries too often during the day!

The Snail

The Snail by Peter Alwin from India is a micro induction heating concept for portable heating and cooking. It is powered by a high-density sugar crystal battery and is designed to be attached to small cooking items such as a pot or mug. It contains integrated sensors to determine the cooking time and temperature for certain food types and features a touch-sensitive display.

Elements Modular Kitchen

Matthew Gilbride from USA, designed the Elements Modular Kitchen - an all-in-one kitchen shelving concept. It’s a multi-unit and surface design that allows flexible modes of cooking, refrigeration, air conditioning and lighting in a space-friendly and environmental design. Units and surfaces are connected through wireless smart networking with solar power supplementing the wireless power when required.

Bio Robot Refrigerator

There are two refrigerator concepts that made it into the finals. The first is the Bio Robot Refrigerator by Yuriy Dmitriev from Russia. It is four times smaller than a conventional refrigerator and uses biopolymer gel that cools through luminescence. There are no shelves, no doors, no drawers or a motor - the food is suspended in a non-sticky, odor-free gel that creates a separate pod for easy access. It can be hung vertically, horizontally or even on the ceiling and the items are kept at their optimum temperature by bio robots. Pardon the pun...but that’s a “cool” concept.

External Refrigerator

The second refrigerator concept is called the External Refrigerator and was designed by Nicolas Hubert from France. It is designed to be fixed on the outside wall of buildings. During cold seasons and at night it utilizes the low outdoor temperatures to keep food at the optimum temperature. When it’s warm, the solar panels help to keep the food cool. The design is simple and in keeping with the external urban environment.

Clean Closet

Two laundry concepts also made the final eight. Michael Edenius from Sweden designed an all-in-one laundry concept called the Clean Closet – a cupboard that cleans your clothes. After scanning the clothes for impurities the Clean Closet uses molecular technology to remove dirt and odors. Kiss your washing machine and dryer goodbye, in fact, kiss your laundry goodbye – this concept uses no water and saves valuable space.

Dismount Washer

Equally interesting, although (for me) harder to comprehend, is the space-saving wash-and-go laundry concept from Lichen Guo of China. The Dismount Washer combines a cleaning container with a laundry basket. The laundry capsule – which is filled with dirty clothing – is placed on a wall-mounted motor or “energy-stick” that somehow cleans the clothes and dispenses steam to aid the cleaning process.

Eco Cleaner

The Eco Cleaner concept by Ahi Andy Mohsen from Iran is a portable, compact dishwasher and composter. Using ultrasonic waves it ionizes food and turns it into reusable waste. This concept relies on two predictions – firstly, that the food of the future will come in capsule form so there will be smaller vessels used for preparing and eating food, and secondly, time for household chores will be limited.

So there you have it - eight space-saving concepts for domestic life in 2050. Who's your pick to take out the Electrolux Design Lab prize in 2010?

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