By Fiona Morris
When did you last think about your refrigerator? I thought about mine recently when the power was off, and I am sure we all think of cleaning them from time to time.
According to Fiona Morris, B. Industrial Design (Hons), UWS, society in general has not thought about them in a logical, analytical and environmental way since the 1930s. Back then power consumption was encouraged, the housewife wanted hygiene and modernity, and a little later the refrigerator also indicated social standing and abundance.
Fiona says, “The capacity of refrigerators has also progressively increased since the 1930s. Refrigerator capacities are well over 800 litres. However, this increase is not essential as family sizes have not increased; in fact they have decreased.”
Luckily these days many designers see that they have an ethical responsibility and consider the state of the planet when designing. Fiona, being of the same outlook, set out to rethink the whole thing. Above you see a choice of individual units, all made without using the regular motor, condenser, pipes and trappings of that behemoth of an ice box in your smart ‘designer’ kitchen. Instead the Eco Fridge is cooled using a thermo-electric module. Fiona pointed out that this is one of the notable differences allowing the Eco Fridge to reduce embodied energy. Without this small compact module the Eco Fridge would not be possible.
Not only did she realise that none of the old paraphernalia was necessary, but that if we could use individual modules, then we could store different types of foodstuffs in each one, and cool them only to the temperature that each item required. A special double-glazed door allows the householder to see into them, and a programmable remote control device allows the user to monitor and modify temperatures and energy consumption, to know exactly which foods have been stored and to even see when the food is about to pass its use-by date.
Fiona explained, “The insulation is a recycled material called Armacel, which is a thin yet insulative product that has a greatly reduced environmental impact compared to rigid polyurethane foam used in current refrigeration. This insulation has the ability to insulate a space for up to 12 hours without the need for additional cooling, if the space is left closed for that time. Therefore, not only will it provide sustainable insulation, it will also reduce the time in which the cooling system will need to work.”
Fiona is proud to sum up by saying that the Eco Fridge offers consumers the opportunity to take control of their energy usage and aid in the reduction of energy consumption within the home.
Perhaps your big refrigerator will come to be viewed like that big old V8 you or Dad used to drive. Imagine that you had a stack of neat little boxes at hand in your home – maybe they’ll become designer items in their own right – they are certainly svelte enough to do so.
Fiona’s models were displayed at an exhibition by the Society for Responsible Design (www.srd.org.au) in Sydney in 2010, and LivingNow thanks Greg Campbell for his co-operation in this article. Sadly, no-one from industry has yet picked up Fiona’s designs. Perhaps you will.
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