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issue: February 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

European Report
On Location: Barcelona, Spain: Innovation Incubator—Electrolux Design Lab 2006


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by Paul Roggema, Europe Correspondent

Sunny Barcelona was the setting for the 2006 Electrolux Design Lab. This annual design competition offers a global platform for young designers to show their talents.

Sunny Barcelona was the setting for the 2006 Electrolux Design Lab. This annual design competition offers a global platform for young designers to show their talents.
Electrolux emphasized fine design throughout the event, even choosing the Arts Hotel, with its upscale design and breathtaking waterfront view, to house journalists from around the world. The venue for the event itself was also an example of dramatic design, culminating on Dec. 1st at Casa Batlló, one of the masterpieces by Spain’s star architect Antoni Gaudí.
For the 2006 Design Lab, Electrolux challenged contestants to develop innovative appliances that could actually help users lead a healthier lifestyle. The winning entry came from Turkish design student Metin Kaplan. His food container system, Nevale, has compartments that can be heated and cooled independently, so users can carry home-prepared meals at their proper temperature. The Electrolux jury appreciated the ethnic origin of the concept: it is an adaptation of an existing regional design. Pans placed on top of each other have traditionally been used for food storage in the Middle East. (The Nevale was detailed in APPLIANCE magazine News in January 2007.)
 Another finalist came from Germany’s Christian Jung and uniquely addressed food preparation. Jung’s Hot Pods are egg-shaped containers with a ferrous metal interior coating. When placed on an induction cooktop, the pods’ interior metal heats, steam-cooking individual food portions. This allows for fast cooking of smaller portions, and different family members can select their own meal.
A more technical concept that came from Mexico’s Eduardo Altamirano
is the Vessto, a portable cooktop using an advanced version of the Stirling engine.
Other finalists include the Nutry Print, a concept appliance that will “print” food in fun shapes uploaded from a PC, to encourage kids to eat healthy foods. Another finalist, the Fit-Snack-Joy, chops, bakes, seasons, and molds fresh foods into cookie-like shapes for healthy snacking.
One may wonder why Electrolux puts its budget and resources behind an event such as the annual Design Lab, since most of the winning appliances are unlikely to ever reach the market. Henrik Otto, head of global design, tells APPLIANCE magazine that the competition is one way in which the company stays in touch with the industrial design world and becomes acquainted with some of the best students. In addition, there are aspects of many of the designs that can make the transition to products that are actually produced.
Ulrich Gartner, vice president of communications for Europe, tells APPLIANCE that Design Lab has become an iconic event in the world of design students. “The 2006 edition had a slightly more focused brief than the previous editions—Healthier Eating Habits—which triggered more concise concepts,” he says. “Electrolux has already protected intellectual property rights for a number of the ideas delivered, which underlines that Design Lab is not just a visual exercise, but also serves as an incubator for the Electrolux product innovation process.”

 

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