Swedish kitchen appliance and vacuum heavyweight Electrolux’s annual design competition, Electrolux Design Lab, produces some of the weirdest and wildest design concepts out there. This year — the fifth annual installment — was no different.

The challenge of Electrolux Design Lab 2010, dubbed “The 2nd Space Age,” was for industrial design students from across the globe “to create home appliances that consider shrinking domestic spaces." Reads the competition’s official brief:
Your ideas will shape how people prepare and store food, wash clothes, and do dishes in the homes of 2050 when 74% of the world’s population are predicted to live in an urban environment. Growing populations living in concentrated areas dictate a need for greater space efficiency. This year, special consideration will be given to designers that submit a design within the context of a range or suite of solutions/appliances. Your design ideas should address key consumer requirements; being green, adaptive to time and space, and allowing for individualization.
Below you’ll find a video introducing the eight finalists, narrowed down from a total of 1,300 entrants. I totally dig the waterless Clean Closet concept and the solar-powered External Refrigerator while the gooey, green Bio Robot Refrigerator completely freaks me out. The super futuristic Kitchen Hideaway involves virtual reality helmets and dinner-cooking robots and also falls into WTF category for me. I think it's safe to say that we probably won't see Kelly Ripa hawking this one on TV in the near future.

Last week, the winning design, the Snail from Peter Alwin of India’s National Institute of Design, was announced. The Snail, one of the less out-there designs, is a portable micro induction heating device for preparing food:
The Snail is a portable heating and cooking device based on magnetic induction processes. Such is the size and versatility of the Snail, it can be stuck directly on to a pot, a pan, a mug etc. to heat the contents. Thisreduces the amount of space required for conventional cooking whilst adding portability to the process. Powered by a high density sugar crystal
battery, the Snail converts the energy from the sugar, heating up a coil to conduct the magnetic induction process to the utensil. Integrated sensors detect the food type being heated; automatically adjusting the time and temperature. A simple touch sensitive display with interface helps to monitor the process.
Alwin received €5,000 and will embark on a 6 months’ paid internship at one of Electrolux's seven global design centers. Congrats to Alwin and all of the finalists.

Via [Core77]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

The Snail wins the Electrolux Design Lab 2010 race
Peter Alwin's The Snail, a portable cooking and heating device, wins top prize at Electrolux Design Lab 2010.