Hoarding stacks of quarters and schlepping bags of dirty laundry may soon be footnotes in the history books, if product designers can realize their visions for better fabric care.
This year the annual design competition sponsored by Swedish appliance maker Electrolux has elicited a range of ideas for saving lazy urbanites a trip to the laundromat, from a system that cleans your clothes using a system of "purified air with silver ions" to something involving "jelly and vibration."
To participate in the competition, designers submit concept descriptions and early prototypes, adding more detailed functionality specifications as they progress through the rounds. Electrolux, which says it is looking for designs that "reflect Scandinavian design values by being sensitive to the environment, meaningful and relevant, whilst providing intuitive ease of use," will announce six finalists in October.
Of the 35 semi-finalists now under consideration, here are our favorite ideas for dead-simple fabric care. It's hard to imagine that any of them will be arriving at a store anytime soon, but in the meantime the lazy among us can dream a happy dream and turn that dirty T-shirt inside out once again.
Erase Stains With A Glove
Erase stains like a pop star with Instant Cleaning Glove, which promises to save you from coffee spill embarrassment thanks to ultrasound technologies that disintegrate dirt particles. Sponge lining on the palm of the glove absorbs the particles and makes clothes good as new.
Clean Towels In The Blink Of An Eye
Pure Towel, designed to dry and de-germ towels immediately after use, is one of the leading contenders for the People’s Choice award. The ring-shaped device attaches to the bathroom wall and uses UV rays to destroy bacteria.
Clean (And Steamed) Clothes In 15 Minutes
Save time and energy with the wind-up motor that powers Dynamo. This gadget promises to clean and steam clothes in 15 minutes. We like the designer’s bold decision to take the laundry machine out of the closet (literally) and turn it into a bedroom centerpiece, with a teardrop shape that would look at home next to your Eames La Chaise.
Why Wash Clothes When You Can Print New Ones?
Zero Waste, a "smart" wardrobe, takes laundry to its extreme by recycling old clothes and printing new ones—no washing required. The face of the wardrobe is a full-size mirror that scans the user’s body and doubles as an interactive screen for choosing colors and cuts.
[Image: Orange laundromat at Windsor and Glendale Ave via Flickr / Scott Lowe]