Our electricity use is invisible, so we consume it without much thought. That’s a problem, and two Swedish designers are tackling it with clever, low-tech designs meant to make us a bit more conscious of the energy we use. They’re currently on view in Washington, D.C., at the House of
Sweden–the swank event space which also houses the Swedish Embassy.
Industrial designer Karin Ehrnberger and interactive designer Loove Broms hold designer dream jobs: Reinventing everyday objects at the Interactive Institute, a Swedish, tech-oriented design think tank. (You can view more of the institute’s work here.) Their Aware series isn’t like the high-tech gimcracks that have become commonplace, when designers invent ways to curb energy use. Rather, each of them makes energy consciousness manifest, in their physical design.
Clothes dryers are one of the most energy-intensive items in any home. This lamp was designed to make line drying an aesthetic virtue, but using wet clothes act as a lamp shade. (Though we’re not terribly certain how good it would look to be hanging underwear and ratty t-shirts in the living room?)
The one high-tech design in the bunch is a clock that displays energy consumption in real time, and allows historical comparisons using overlaid information graphics:
Maybe the most clever design in the lot. The Puzzle Switch looks askew when turned on–the idea being to exploit our need for visual order, to get us to turn out lights when we’re not using them:
A radiator handle that digs into your hand when you’re increasing the heat–thus giving you a second thought about whether you need to be toastier:
A series of portable lights that are connected by RF controls. Together, they only have a set amount of light. When you brighten one, the others automatically dim: