Low-tech in design. Good for the climate – ndion

Cooling uses a lot of electricity and generates high CO2 emissions. Young designers have asked themselves how the energy consumption in design can be reduced during production. The result is innovative low-tech solutions.

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In recent decades, people have been dependent on energy-intensive refrigeration technologies that have boosted the global temperature rise with high CO2 emissions. A new way of thinking is beginning now, especially among the younger generation. Several designers who participated in the international Design Newcomer Award ein & zwanzig from the German Design Council have met the current challenges of the climate crisis with innovative product developments: How can design be carried out without high technical effort, power consumption and with so little “gray energy”. “as possible, ie the energy used in production, look? For their design, future designers will rediscover natural processes and materials and find convincing alternatives to air conditioners and household appliances.

By using natural active principles for intelligent solutions and at the same time being as independent as possible of complex technologies – this low-tech approach has attracted increasing interest in architecture for several years. A departure from technology-centric design approaches also begins in product design: the use of natural materials with special properties and physical processes such as thermal and evaporative cooling aims to achieve sustainability and energy efficiency without sacrificing comfort. Because the indoor climate is an important feel-good factor, it largely determines comfort and productivity.

“Corteza” (Coolers) – Alba Diaz Strum, Spain / France

“Corteza” is a thermo cooling box, shopping and picnic basket in one. Made in a process inspired by rotational molding, the amazing thermal properties of cork come into their own: The basket – hole on the inside and at a depth that is perfectly balanced for the cooling effect – reduces heat transfer without electricity or cold gaskets and, with its insulating properties particularly suitable for storage and transport of fresh food. The basket’s handle and carrying straps are borrowed from the aesthetics of leather bags, so Corteza has little in common with a bulky cool box and looks more like a minimalist trend bag.

The Spanish designer Alba Diaz Strum (ENSCI – Les Ateliers, Paris / France) has succeeded in creating an innovative design that gives the long-lasting material cork contemporary relevance in the context of thermally efficient products.

draft (A / C) – Sofie Aschan, Sweden

Designer Sofie Aschan (Lund University, Sweden) is also reviving a traditional cooling method for her alternative, off-grid air conditioning Draft. The curved clay jar is a sculptural eye-catcher. Placed in front of an open window and filled with water via the two openings, it cools the warm outdoor air as it flows in, thus lowering the overall temperature in the room. draft is an analogous tool for dealing with rising heat waves in Europe, which is based on the physical principle of evaporation. Unlike commercial air conditioners, it does not produce noise or waste energy resources. This design aims to break the vicious circle of global warming and rising CO2 emissions caused by additional electric refrigeration devices with a natural operating principle.

Unlike high-tech air conditioners, the Draft is a visually appealing design object with an almost filigree appearance that resists the rapidly increasing energy consumption of air conditioners: low-tech for more sustainable space cooling.

“Relics” (refrigerated containers) – Georgia from le Fort, Germany

“relics” is a range of storage utensils made from recycled porcelain that extends the shelf life of stored fruits and vegetables. The designer Georgia from le Fort (University of the Arts, Berlin) takes up the problem of food waste because every year countless tons of fruits and vegetables are thrown out due to improper storage. As an alternative to the conventional fruit bowl or refrigerator, the Relics principle is based on a natural cooling effect: A bowl inside each container reduces the temperature through evaporative cooling and protects against drying out through high humidity. In combination with the special shape of the containers, optimal conditions are created for storage of virtually all types of fruit and vegetables.

The approach to this design is holistically sustainable: the containers consist of 100% porcelain fragments, which are first ground and then sintered. With Relics, Georgia von le Fort has created a sensitive product solution that uses waste as a starting material and reduces new organic waste – a resource-saving alternative that applies to high-tech products with proven technology.


Newcomer Award twenty-one 2022

that 21 winners of the international young talent competition ein & zwanzig stand firm. With curiosity, a research spirit and a deep understanding of intelligent problem solving, the young talents combine aesthetics and utility in an impressive way.

The 21 winners will be presented from 6 to 12 June 2022 at the 60th edition of the Salone del Mobile at Officina 3, Via Tortona 31 in Milan. The coveted “Best of Best” award will be presented on June 6, 2022. The design of the exhibition will this year be realized by the Parisian design studio NOCO D. The winners of last year’s young talent competition will also be present.


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