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 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 relied on energy-intensive cooling technologies that have fueled global temperature rise with high CO2 emissions. A new way of thinking is now beginning, 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, i.e. what does the energy used in production look like? For their designs, the future designers 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 from complex technologies – this low-tech approach has attracted increasing interest in architecture for several years. Product design has also started to turn away from technology-centric design approaches: the use of natural materials with special properties and physical processes such as thermal and evaporative cooling aim to achieve sustainability and energy efficiency without having to sacrifice 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 thermal cooler box, shopping and picnic basket in one. Manufactured in a process inspired by rotational molding, the fantastic thermal properties of cork come into their own: the basket – hollow on the inside and at a depth perfectly balanced for the cooling effect – reduces heat transfer without electricity or cold packs and, with its insulating properties particularly suitable for storing and transporting fresh food. The basket’s handle and carrying straps are based on the aesthetics of leather bags, so the Corteza has a bit in common with a bulky cooler, but 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) also revives a traditional cooling method for her alternative, off-grid air conditioning Draft. The curved clay pot is a sculptural eye-catcher. Placed in front of an open window and filled with water via the two openings, it cools the warm outside air as it flows in, thereby lowering the overall temperature in the room. draft is an analog tool to deal with increasing 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 cycle of global warming and increasing CO2 emissions caused by additional electric cooling devices with a natural operating principle.

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

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

“relics” is a range of storage tools made from recycled porcelain that extend the shelf life of stored fruit 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 fruit and vegetables are thrown away due to improper storage. As an alternative to the conventional fruit bowl or the 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 dehydration through high humidity. In combination with the special shape of the containers, optimal conditions are created for storing almost all types of fruit and vegetables.

The approach to this design is holistically sustainable: the vessels 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 stands up to high-tech products with proven technology.


Newcomer Award ein&zwanzig 2022

that 21 winners of the international young talent competition ein&zwanzig stand firm. With curiosity, a spirit of research 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 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 winners of last year’s young talent competition will also be in attendance.


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