Designing Tomorrow: 5 Top Ideas For Future Urbanites

Making wild predictions about the gadgets of the future didn’t go out of style after the golden age of futurism. In fact, design competitions to come up with crazier and crazier designs are quite common these days. Despite our collective technology-induced cynicism, designers are still able to come up with ideas that most of us would simply never dream of. These five entries are from the top 25 in the Electrolux Design Lab 2010, a competition that asked designers to think up compact future solutions for crowded urban living. Ranging from the completely sensible to the utterly bizarre, the entries all exhibit the best of space-saving futuristic home gadgets.

One of the more sensible entries in the competition is the Drum Washing Machine from Andras Suto of Hungary. The main part of the washer stays affixed to the wall in a communal place, like the laundry room of an apartment complex. Each user gets their own drum, the part of the machine that holds the clothing. The individual drums are used as laundry baskets in each apartment and simply inserted into the washer on laundry day.

The Instinct Vacuum Cleaner, from designer Berty Bhuruth of Australia, is a more fanciful design. It’s a robotic vacuum cleaner that looks a bit like a grazing sheep. The Instinct consults 3D models of each room before doing its job, giving it a clear picture of where it can and can not go – unlike real sheep, who simply go wherever they please.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live on an alien world, the Bio Robot Refrigerator design from Yuriy Dmitriev of Russia might give you a taste. The strange refrigerator concept does away with doors, coolant, compressors and shelves and replaces then with a non-sticky, odorless green goo. The gel is meant to keep contents at a constant temperature without the energy-intensive operation of a traditional refrigerator. As a plus, you’ll likely lose weight because sticking your hand into green goo for that piece of cheesecake probably won’t seem like a great idea.

The problems of doing laundry and finding a place to store clothes are eliminated with the In-Home Clothing Printer from Joshua Harris of the USA. The gadget takes users’ measurements via photographs, then prints perfectly-sized clothing daily. The inventor envisions clothing designers selling designs and the appropriate fiber cartridges for the machines. Every night the machine unravels that day’s outfit, making closets a thing of the past.

The MESO food injection device from Bogdan Ionita of Romania is among the strangest of the contest finalists. The device delivers nutrients via an injection, eliminating the need for grocery shopping, cooking meals, and washing dishes. While delivering nutrients the device also takes a small blood sample to determine the exact cocktail of nutrients the user needs. There is even a portable version to take with you when away from home. Of course, this design assumes that there will eventually be a day when we don’t crave the taste and texture of food.

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See more in Unbuilt Concepts or under Technology. June, 2010.