Ben de la Roche, an industrial design student at Massey University in New Zealand, has designed a doorless refrigeration wall, called Impress, that prevents food waste and saves energy. De la Roche’s design is a finalist in the 2012 Electrolux Design Lab competition. Impress, Electrolux says, “completely transforms the way we refrigerate.” Rather than hide refrigerated food and drinks in a closed box, the appliance places items out in the open. It saves energy by only applying refrigeration when a food item is present.

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Impress consists of an assembly of separate elongated cooling units that de la Roche calls “pins.” Each pin presents a hexagonal face to the outside, forming a unique honeycomb surface. When you’re ready to refrigerate an item, you press it against one or more of the hexagons and push back. The pins you’re pushing on retract so your food item will be held in place, and the surrounding pins are activated so they begin cooling your item. Unlike conventional refrigerators that use toxic gases like ammonia, Impress employs thermoacoustic refrigeration using nitrogen.

His refrigerator is one of ten home appliance concepts chosen by Electrolux out of 1,200 entrants and will be on exhibit at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, Italy, on Oct. 25. Electrolux has chosen finalists in the competition from Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, England, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, and Spain. Electrolux says its intent with the competition is to give students “a brief that challenges them to create holistic sensorial experiences” and that represent “the kind of creative design thinking that surprises and challenges us and creates discussion about the future.” At Milan, a jury of design experts will award a first prize of 5,000 Euros and a six-month paid internship at Electrolux’s global design center. They will also award a second prize of 3,000 Euros and a third prize of 2,000 Euros.

+ Electrolux Design Lab competition

+ Massey University

Photos courtesy of Electrolux and Massey University