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Electrolux Design Lab finalist Amy Liu speaks on designing a Treat for your guests

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Futuristic technology meets nature in the Treat – a finalist in this year’s Electrolux Design Lab (EDL) competition.  Conceptualised by Amy Liu, a  Queensland University of Technology design student, this tree-like food storage appliance combines classic storage techniques like vacuum sealing with modern mobile technology that can control the device remotely.

EDL 2012 finalist Amy Liu, a student at the Queensland University of Technology, looks to both the future and nature in her designs, resulting in the Treat.

The Treat has a clever and intuitive way of warning when the food stored is about to expire – the pod simply changes colour as it approaches the expiry date, and drops off when the food has spoiled. The Treat also adds to the convenience of meal preparation, as you can tell it to preheat the meal stored within remotely via a mobile app.

This vision to improve the quality of future life has landed Liu a spot at the EDL finals, to be held in Milan on 25 October. We speak to her on creating a Treat for the future.

How did you come up with the idea for the Treat?

My inspiration comes from nature. It begins with the process of picking fresh ingredients to preparing and cooking the food. Food technology has developed and changed our eating habits in the past centuries.

The Treat, a portmanteau of the words “Tree” and “Eat”, makes food storage and preparation convenient for the busy professional.

When we can’t afford takeaway food every day or spend our nights cooking after work, our fast-paced society turns to canned foods. It may be quick and convenient, but it may not be the best choice when it comes to health. Besides, canned or frozen food only comes in limited selections; you have much more options if you prepare  your own meals.

With the Treat, you can choose to cook on the weekends.  This will allow you to save a lot of time during the week and enjoy your personal hobbies or spend time with your family and friends instead. The improvements in technology we have today has no doubt made life much more convenient, but it is also important to remind the taste of ‘hard work’ of the old days.
What is the experience you hope for the user to have with this appliance? 

For 3 meals a day, 1095 meals a year, cooking has gradually become a tedious routine in many households. Most of us seem to have forgotten to enjoy the process of cooking, presenting and sharing. It is not just about what you eat and how well you cook, it is about how and who you are spending time with. Treat yourself and your loved ones with warmth, love and feel a sense of belonging.
What was the greatest challenge for you in designing this product?

A can opener was chosen at first for this project at university. But when I started on the project, I sat there for days and couldn’t get any ideas on how to improve and modify the can opener into a future product.

No matter how hard I tried, it could only be improved a tiny little bit on the functional and practical aspect. And then I thought, maybe I could design something to replace the canned food option entirely, to one that allows you to store away your own precooked meals. That’s when  I came up with the idea for Treat.

Who are your favourite designers? 

When it comes to favourite designers, it’s hard for me to narrow the list down. I like to learn, explore and experience new things. My hobbies range from products, cars, architecture, furniture and fashion.

Alexander McQueen is one of my favourite fashion designers. His collections are so imaginative and no doubt instantly recognizable. His ability to transfer artistic freedom into something wearable is what I admire.
Do you have a favourite Electrolux design?

My favourite Electrolux product has to be the “Vacs from the sea” project. It is the most fascinating eco-friendly project I’ve ever seen, in which the vacuum cleaners were made from plastic waste collected from the world’s oceans.

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