British designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau have devised a series of unsettling furnishings that are sure to split the field when it comes to defining “green design”. These mechanized contraptions feature microbial fuel cells that generate power from fallen vermin – namely mice and insects. The animal lovers among you may not wish to read on, but it is a unique idea if your apartment has a vermin infestation.
The two designers first created a wall clock powered by a microbial fuel cell that is fed by dead insects that dare to stray too close. The fly-eating clock comes with a honey-covered white belt that attracts insects and operates like flypaper. Once an insect is stuck, it is then scraped off by a blade, which drops it into a microbial fuel cell below. That device will then transform organic matter into electrical energy. Apparently, it takes eight dead flies to provide enough juice for the clock to go on for 12 days.
Auger and Loizeau are aware that people will be horrified at their creations — however they justify their creations as being a “newfangled version of all those nature shows on television that show animals hunting in the wild”. “A fly buzzing around the window” says Auger, “suddenly becomes an actor in a live game of life, as the viewer half wills it towards the robot and half hopes for it to escape. Some people are appalled by it but others are fascinated. We play on something that is powerful in human nature, the idea of life and death.”
If you thought that was barbaric, their next design is sure to turn the stomach – the mousetrap coffee table. The design features a leg with a hole that encourages mice to climb up to the tabletop. Once there, sensors detect that a mouse is standing on the trapdoor in the center, and a door opens. The mouse then falls to its death into a microbial fuel cell housed underneath, where it gets digested and converted into energy to power the table’s electronic parts. Co-designer Professor Chris Melhuish, of Bristol Robotics said of their designs, “We want robots to be able to get their own energy from the environment.” Just as long as they stick to rats and flies and don’t move onto humans – I’m fine with that.
So where do you stand? Are these edgy examples of green design that also sort out unwanted vermin — or horrific furnishings that belong in a haunted house rather than a home?