By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
An Austrian design student's concept for a modular refrigerator copped top honors in Electrolux's sixth annual Design Lab competition.
Stefan Buchberger's "Flatshare, an appliance of the future," won out over entries from 600 industrial design students from 49 countries, who were asked to submit concepts for "tomorrow's home appliances for the Internet generation."
The high-tech fridge, which is comprised of four stackable mini-refrigerators, was designed to solve the problems of shared living situations by tapping into the Internet generation's love of customization and independence, Electrolux said. Each of the mini-refrigerators can be personalized with various-colored skins and accessories such as bottle openers, and can be detached when a roommate moves out.
"I got the idea to create the Flatshare fridge because in many shared flats there is a problem with the refrigerator," says Buchberger. "It gets filthy because no one person feels responsible for cleaning it."
The jury was impressed by his ingenuity. "A fridge is a tricky thing to reinvent," said jury chair Henrik Otto, who heads global design for Electrolux. "Flatshare, however, manages to be new in a fun and expressive way. A shared refrigerator is also very relevant from a consumer-insight perspective, managing to resolve the needs and wants of the target group."
Buchberger will receive approximately $7,000 and a six-month internship at one of Electrolux's global design centers.
Second place went to to Guopeng Liang, a Chinese design student, for his "iBasket," a Wi-Fi connected clothes hamper that cleans laundry remotely with the click of a mouse.
"Coox," a rollaway cooking table that combines a cutting board, a stovetop and a dinner table, by French design student Antoine Lebrun, took third place.
The only American finalist, Adam Brodowski, received kudos for "Sook," a social-networking recipe generator with an electronic "tongue."
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