Hungarian design student wins Electrolux Design Lab 2007 with E-wash washing machine

E-wash is a compact washing machine that uses soap nuts instead of detergent. The winning designer is Levente Szabó from Moholy-Nagy University of Art & Design in Hungary.

The 2007 Electrolux Design Lab, the fifth edition of this annual competition, challenged students to come up with environmentally-sound, commercially-viable products and solutions that would enable consumers to live in greater harmony with the environment.

In India and Nepal, people have used the soap nut (sapindus mucorossi) for  centuries to get their clothes clean. Szabó says that a kilogram of soap nuts would last the typical person a year. Soap nuts, he explains, are good for people with allergies and gentle on clothes.

“E-wash is a brilliant connection between ancient knowledge and high-tech,” comments juror Henrik Otto, head of Global Design for Electrolux. “It takes an open-minded person to seek out solutions from one culture and apply them to another.”

Fellow juror Matali Crasset, award-winning French designer, agrees, and adds, “It is a global system. It doesn’t just address one part of the process.”

Szabó says that his starting point was looking for alternatives to the production, packaging and transportation of the detergent. “I was looking for a substance that could replace detergent,” he explains. “The soap nut is a natural plant and can be cultivated. It does not harm nature but is a part of it.

“I also changed the form of the conventional washing machine. I reduced the size and made it flat, so it would fit into a small apartment, but also would be able to wash a lot of clothes at the same time.”

The award for second place went to Pebble by Laura Pandelle from École Boulle, France. Pebble is a portable, solar food cooker that uses spray-on solar cells and induction heating for precise, energy-efficient cooking.

“This is a fascinating design that’s plausible and really useful,” says juror Jason Bradbury, a UK technology presenter. “Solar paint is an innovative use of a really exciting technology.”

“I like the fact that it is a readily transportable object,” adds juror Celine Cousteau, an environmental advocate. “You are not stuck in the kitchen. You can put it anywhere. You can also leave it and do something else, so it’s liberating. It is also very appealing from a tactile standpoint.”

Third place went to Go Fresh by He Cheng Fei from Jiangnan University, China. Go Fresh is an energy-saving fridge with individual, honeycomb-shaped compartments that preserve each type of food at the right temperature and can be removed to be taken on a picnic, for example.
“Essentially, he’s attempted to redesign the bicycle,” Bradbury says. “The fridge hasn’t changed a whole lot since the 1950s. He’s made it into a three-dimensional, portable object.”

Crasset adds, “With the food stored at the ideal temperature, people may waste less. Also, the refrigerator is more than just a functional appliance in a corner. It can, for example, be used as a room divider.”

The Design Lab ‘07 award is a prize of 5,000 Euro and a six-month internship  at one of the Electrolux Group’s global design centers.

The other five finalists are:

  • Circompo by Thanat Tengamnuay from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand. Circompo is a composter and garbage bin that decomposes organic waste – especially food – using microorganisms that are kept under ideal conditions of air, moisture and heat to speed the process.
  • Fog Shower by João Diego Schimansky from Pontificia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Brazil. Fog Shower is a shower that uses a fog of microscopic water droplets and only two liters of water for a five-minute shower, compared to 26 liters for today’s most efficient water-saving showerheads.
  • Pure Washer by Tatjana Voronova from Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany. Pure Washer is a rotating dual kitchen sink and detergent-free compact dishwasher that reduces water consumption and uses degassed water to remove oily dirt from dishes.
  • Nature Wind by Bae Won-Ho from Dong-A University, South Korea.
    Nature Wind is a solar-powered air cleaner mounted to a window that uses a series of filters to refresh and sanitize household air.
  • Return pot by Ying-Hao Juan from Cranbrook Academy of Art, U.S.A. Return Pot is a plastic decomposer that turns plastic bags made from polyactic acid (PLA) resin into compost for plants.

Pictures and video material is available for download here.

Over the years, thousands of students have participated in the Electrolux global competition crowned with inspiring international workshops and exciting press events. Design Lab has been run in Budapest, New York, Stockholm and Barcelona.

In 2006, the Design Lab Award went to Nevale, a portable food carrier that lets consumers keep up to four different home-cooked meals at the right temperature, while featuring an intuitive, ecological and sleek design.

The jury
The entries were judged by a jury of internationally renowned members of the environmental, design, and technology communities. They include:

  • Matali Crasset, the award-winning French industrial designer who works across a wide range of disciplines including products, interiors, and conceptual projects. Her approach is to research new typologies that address the fundamental needs of mobility and freedom enabling people to use objects and spaces in their own way. She worked for Philippe Starck for five years before opening her own studio in Paris in 1998. Her work can be seen on her website
  • Jason Bradbury, the UK’s best known Gadget and Consumer Technology presenter who currently hosts The Gadget Show on Prime Time British television and Discovery Channel. He’s also the regular gadget guy on ITV’s This Morning and BBC Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. As a journalist he has written numerous features for newspapers and magazines including The Guardian and .Net Magazine. He also has a regular blog on his website
  • Céline Cousteau, the daughter of ocean explorer and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau and granddaughter of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, is currently featured in PBS’ most successful new television series “Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures,” and has worked for three years in Costa Rica on a sustainable development project for The Earth Council, an affiliate of the United Nations University of Peace. She now has a key role in her father’s Ocean Futures Society, which is an organization dedicated to exploring the global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection. Her blog can be found at
  • Henrik Otto, Head of Global Design at Electrolux heads up an organization of more than 100 designers in seven countries on four continents. Since joining Electrolux in 2004 he has embarked on a mission to make design one of the forces that powers the evolution of Electrolux into a leading global appliance brand. He oversees and directs the design process for more than 30 product lines in the kitchen, floor care and professional categories. Over the course of his 15 years in the profession, Otto has been awarded countless design accolades and peer acclaim. He is a member of prestigious organizations including the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) where he is a member of the board. See Electrolux products at

Media inquiries contact:
Ulrich Gartner, Vice President Communications Europe
Tel: +46 8 738 6396
Pictures and video material is available for download here.

About Design Lab
Design Lab is an annual global design competition open to undergraduate and graduate industrial design students who are invited to present innovative ideas for household appliances of the future.

The first edition in 2003 was with direct cooperation with three design schools in Europe only. Since then Electrolux has developed the project to a global scale and opening it up to design students from schools around the world.