...Levente Szabo. Congratulations to the Hungarian design student, who took home the top prize from the Electrolux Design lab 2007 competition with E-wash, a compact washing washing machine that uses soap nuts instead of detergent. The announcement came yesterday in Paris, where all the finalists had gathered to compare and celebrate their designs.
The fifth edition of the contest featured the second clothes washer in three years (remember the Airwash?) to garner the win; it's most notable feature is that it's designed to use soap nuts rather than detergent, to make it viable for use in developing countries across the world.It came from the challenge to students to come up with environmentally-sound, commercially viable products and solutions that would enable consumers to "live in greater harmony with the environment."
"E-wash is a brilliant connection between ancient knowledge and high-tech," comments juror Henrik Otto, Head of Global Design for Electrolux. "It takes someone open-minded to look for solutions from somewhere else and apply them to his own culture."
SzabÃ³ 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," he explains." The soapnut is a natural plant and can be cultivated. It does not harm nature but is a part of it.
"The other problem was the form of conventional washing machine. I reduced the size and made it flat, so it would fit into a small apartment, but also would be able to wash a lot of clothes at the same time."
The award for second place went to Pebble by Laura Pandelle from Ã‰cole Boulle, France. Pebble is a portable, solar food cooker that uses spray-on solar cells and induction heating for precise, energy-efficient cooking (we featured it here). "This is a fascinating design that's plausible and really useful," comments juror Jason Bradbury, a UK technology presenter. "Solar paint is a really interesting use of a really exciting technology."
Third place went to Go Fresh by He Cheng Fei from Jiangnan University, China. Go Fresh (also featured here) is an energy-saving fridge with individual, honeycomb-shaped compartments that preserve each type of food at the right temperature and can be removed to be taken on a picnic, for example.
Congratulations to all winners and finalists (who are all winners in our eyes); we expect to be washing exclusively with soap nuts, cooking with spray-on solar and cooling with increased efficiency soon. ::Electrolux Design lab and ::Electrox Design lab blog