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Electrolux Design Lab finalist Ben de la Roche’s Impress-ive idea puts the fun in refrigeration


An immature idea, leftover food and a children’s toy helped Ben de la Roche design his way onto the path of success.

The Impress refrigerator concept has made the design student from Massey University in New Zealand one of just 10 finalists of the Electrolux Design Lab 2012 (EDL) competition. His food storage idea combines form and function with a sense of fun to boot, culminating in a refrigeration wall that holds your food out so you can remember and easily access any food stored for your next meal or snack.

EDL finalist and third year design student at New Zealand’s Massey University  Ben de la Roche.

According to de la Roche, the idea for his winning concept began as “a rather immature premise that one could finish their meal and simply throw their leftovers at the wall and have it somehow refrigerate the food.”

But reality soon set in, and the complications of throwing food and getting it to stay where they landed made him seek out extra inspiration. This eventually led him to the “Pin art” children’s toy, which became the basis for the Impress concept.

Now, de la Roche is on his way to Milan on 25 Oct, where the EDL 2012 finals will be held. There, he will present his idea to a panel of professional judges at the top of their respective fields, for a chance to win an internship at an Electrolux Global Design centre and 5,000 Euros. Find out what makes him and his impressive concept tick below:

The Impress wall refrigerator makes food storage both fun and easy to access.

What need does the Impress refrigerator meet?

People need the Impress not only because it is a sustainable option to conventional refrigerators –  it uses harmless gases like argon and helium in  place of CFCs like ammonia. It does not refrigerate when there is nothing in it and uses less power when  fewer items are pressed into it. Waste no more leftovers and save on  space and  money with the Impress.

The Impress refrigerator also saves users from the dreadfully boring process of refrigeration as it is today. Piercing the kitchen wall with your leftovers is much more fun than opening a big heavy door. I want the refrigerator to be a highlight of the meal experience.

Can you describe your approach to product design? 

I like to approach each design from the perspective of the user. If they saw the object for the first time, what would they think of it? Good design for me is design that tells a story. A design should speak of its background through its function and aesthetic.

What was the greatest challenge for you in designing this product?

The greatest challenge in designing the Impress Refrigerator was to create a crockery set that both fitted perfectly into the refrigerator and looked contemporary and functioned as crockery should.

The Impress wall refrigerator makes food storage both fun and easy to access.

Why did you go into industrial design, and who is your favourite designer? 

I went into the field of Industrial Design to find a path to the set and prop design business for movies. But I’m enjoying all aspects of Industrial design now that I’m here.

At the moment my favourite designer is Syd Mead. Although conceptual, all of his work shares a story and gives a great look into his wonderful imagination.

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