In November 2004 Electrolux unveiled the results of its second annual Design Laboratory, a conceptual competition that engages students to design appliances for the future. Last year students from schools as far-flung as Rio de Janeiro and Wuxi, China, developed products for the year 2015. The entries include a wooden table with an embedded electronic grid that powers induction tablets, designed by a group from the Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London. Collaborating Czech Republic and Slovakian students conceived the bright yellow Washman, a combination of a water-efficient washer and dryer. Sweden’s Umeå Institute of Design contributed FooZoo, a refrigeration unit that automatically adjusts humidity to control the natural ripening of fruits. Rockpool, the winning design from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, uses compressed carbon dioxide rather than water to clean dishes.
Although it remains to be seen whether or not Electrolux will put these designs into production, there was still good reason for holding the competition. “These conceptual products will be inspiration for the Electrolux group,” says Henrik Otto, senior vice president of global design. “Students don’t have preconceived ideas of what you can and can’t do from an industrial-design point of view. That is definitely refreshing to my teams around the globe.”