Each year, Swedish appliance giant Electrolux hosts the international Design Lab competition, which puts a global spotlight on industrial design students from around the globe. The contest showcases leading ideas, raises the public profile of promising students, and sheds light on future product design concepts.
Concepts presented by past finalists included a handheld washing machine, a micro induction cooking system, and modular cooking appliances.
In June, Electrolux unveiled the 20 semifinalists for the 2013 competition. Some of the entries included stress-relieving "breathing" walls; a cooktop that calculates the nutritional value, toxicity, and freshness of food; and a robotic 3D food printer. Check out the rest of the finalists here.
This year’s competition came to a close last week, when Electrolux unveiled its 2013 winner: the "Mab" robotic cleaning system. Developed by Columbian design student Adrian Perez Zapata, Mab is an automated “swarm” of mini robots that scan a household and determines which areas need to be cleaned. It then wipes them clean with individual drops of water.
"I was in my university gardens when I observed the controlled flight of bees pollinating a flower, and how magical it is to see swarms of bees working together," said Perez Zapata in a statement. "My concept Mab only requires a short initial configuration to function autonomously, so you could arrive home and see a swarm of mini-robots roaming around cleaning independently. This means you could sit back and relax, as you observe with great astonishment the little Mab 'fairies' working their magic autonomously."
The second place price was awarded to the above-mentioned 3D food printer. Called “Atomium,” it was developed by Brazilian student Luiza Silva.
Finally, the third-place award was given to Korean student Jeabyun Yeon, for his Breathing Wall concept, which modifies indoor environments to suit the mood and comfort of homeowners.
All these ideas are quite compelling, but like most finalists in the Design Lab competition, we imagine they’re pretty far from becoming a reality. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to peek into the minds of up-and-coming designers.