Electrolux Design Lab, the always-zany student design competition that previously introduced us to scented floating orbs that purify your home’s air (think Glade meets “Phantasm”), oxygen-releasing pillows, and mollusk-inspired micro-induction heating devices, is back for its 12th edition with a new theme: “Creating Healthy Homes.”
The competition challenges entrants to create an innovative, wellness-promoting design concept that’s appropriate for the sustainable home of the future and fits into one of three key focus areas: Fabric Care, Culinary Enjoyment, and Air Purification. Submissions must, in one way or another, touch down upon the question: “how can we in the future enjoy healthy well-being, live in pleasant environments and take care of ourselves and others in a way that is creative, sustainable and effortless?
Although not one of the 35 semi-finalists that have advanced to stage three, the public voting phase, of the 2014 Electrolux Design Lab, one particular concept has been lavished with a fair amount of attention as of late for presenting a starry-eyed mash-up of home energy conservation, calorie-burning, and laundering.
Simply named “Wheel,” Si Hyeong Ryu’s submission is a multitasking washing machine-treadmill combo — tagline: “do your washing while you run” — that harkens back to the era when dirty clothes were made clean by humans, not by energy-guzzling machines. Harnessing human kinetic power, it’s a device that both your grandma and your personal trainer could totally get behind.
Writes Ryu, a product design student at the Samsung Art and Design Institute (SADI) in Seoul, South Korea:
We are living in a paradox that we cannot keep ourselves clean without damaging our surroundings. Wheel is a crossover between gym bike and washing machine to break out of this vicious circle by using human kinetic power to save electricity and our nature. The power generated from the spinning can be used to wash clothes and the unused power can be saved to be used as electricity in the future. The washing balls inside shortens the washing time and saves the amount of water used in the process. The saved energy can be used when there is no one around or the only person who can run the machine is a kid or an elder. The treadmill mechanism helps the user for better work out experience for healthier life. The normal plug in and flexible display system inside the wheel provides let's the user to experience better riding experience.
Wheel is not without some glaring issues, however.
Ryu specifically conceived the time-, water-, and electricity-saving device for “people who live in urban areas and want to be more healthy.” It’s a noble aim but I can’t see this huge, hamster-wheel-esque exercise-cum-washing machine fitting into most city apartments. It’s bound to take up a ton of space. Maybe a gym-laundromat concept — "The Washboard?" "Spin Cycle?" "Fit to be Clean?" — filled with these things would be more appropriate. But on that note, I’m thinking that Wheel is best used in the buff because, after all, what could be annoying than doing a full load of wash while simultaneously exercising only to have to strip off your sweaty workout apparel right afterwards and toss it in the dirty clothes bin.
Head on over to the Electrolux Design Lab 2014 homepage to check out home laundering concepts that have indeed advanced into the semi-finals round. And if any strike your fancy — I’m particularly fond of Leobardo Armento’s PureTowel, a smart towel hanger with an integrated UV ray and high-speed fan — be sure to give it your vote. The six finalists, chosen by a team of Electrolux experts, will be announced in October. The overall winner of the competition — up for a cash prize of 5,000 euros along with a 6-month paid internship at an Electrolux Global Design Centre — and the People’s Choice Award winner selected via online voting will be unveiled Nov. 12 at a ceremony in Paris.
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