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The Week in Design: Electrolux's Trashy Vacuums and Designer Phones Done Wrong

The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never move from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over their creations, nevertheless.

Last week, we saw Tokujin Yoshioka's flawless take on a cell phone redesign, but big names don't always mean big success. Although this week's Alessi concept phones were crafted by some of the more notable names in the design world, they left us wanting. Still, we were wowed by Electrolux's creative use of oceanic garbage -- which also made us feel bad for the poor fish swimming through all the world's debris. Read on to see more designs after the break.

Vac from the Sea by Electrolux

Vac from the Sea
Despite the fact that horribly large amounts of trash litter our oceans and beaches worldwide, Electrolux's Vac from the Sea series of one-off, garbage-bedecked vacuum cleaners required months of preparation. Since it's not easy making refuse pretty, the designers had to organize volunteers' hauls by color and material before shaping them into a vacuum cleaner shell. Each of the five designs represents a different body of water, incorporating the material collected from it. The North Sea edition, for example, is made up of circles of plastic punched from debris found off the coast of Sweden. Since each of the designs were time- and labor-intensive, Electrolux won't be making more; instead, it will auction off each of the vacuums to benefit pollution research.

RIMA Lamp by Matthias Pinkert

We want Matthias Pinkert's task-ish RIMA lamp. The long, stout structure holds an array of LEDs, which are controlled by four sliding rings. An embedded processor detects the position of each of the rings, which you move back and forth to light up the lamp in different fashions. (With four rings, you can choose either a single or a double light source.) Rotating the rings also changes the intensity of the light. Gorgeous!

Cell Phones by Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders and Stefano Giovannoni for Alessi

alessi cell phone
For the Designtide Tokyo 2010 exhibition, Alessi and iida teamed up with design heavyweights Marcel Wanders, Stefano Giovannoni and Patricia Urquiola to rethink the cell phone. Sadly, they were not all beautiful. Wanders deployed his typical baroque flourishes to the back of the phone without thinking much about the typical touchscreen form factor. (He did, however, come up with an adorable little divan, upon which your charging phone sleeps.) Giovannoni's were the most creative and decidedly Alessi-like, with their mod animal forms and punchy colors. Each phone and charger design suggests an aesthetic narrative. One design's phone is shaped like a fisherman, and its dock a fish's open mouth. In another, the phone is a man walking his dog with a charging cable. Urquiola's designs flopped miserably, simultaneously invoking castanets, 'Space Invaders' and bad '70s macrame. We'll just defer to the Designboom comments: "horrible design," "out of fashion," "kitsch, useless, bad taste," and "looks like a sh***y toy."

Full-Rear-View Windscreen Monitor by Ho-Tzu Cheng

Full-Rear-View Windscreen Monitor
When backup cameras first entered the auto market, horrible drivers (like your humble writer) breathed a sigh of relief. Of course, backup cameras also require displays that crowd your dashboard. Ho-Tzu Cheng's concept uses your windshield as the display surface, and tracks the sides of your car, as well. The three cameras (on each side and the rear) combine to form a panoramic, real-time image projected onto the top of your viewing area. But that makes us wonder whether the image might become extremely distracting (or dizzying), as it competes for your attention with what's in front of you.

el:Dudy by Chan Po Yee

el:dudy fitness gadgets
We don't really know the logic behind the name 'el:Dudy,' but Chan Po Yee's electronic fitness gadgets confound us more than their name alone. Each of the range's three products are intended to help keep the elderly fit by employing sensors and accelerometers, which are supposed to track the user's form and progress. But we're not exactly sure why the 'Massager' needs an accelerometer, or why all of the el:Dudys look like sex toys. And we wonder if the elderly, who are typically more averse to new technology, would be inclined to use the el:Dudys with their computers and/or smartphones (to which the devices connect via Bluetooth). Wouldn't they rather just take a class at the senior center?

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