Every year Electrolux Design Lab runs a student competition for innovative household appliances, and every year the challenge draws out ideas that are both visionary in concept [verging on sci-fi] and practical in their execution. Of the eight finalists in the 2009 competition, I was particularly intrigued by a device called Moléculaire, designed by German student Nico Kläber.
Moléculaire merges the already forward-looking techniques of molecular gastronomy (more on that here) and 3D printing (also known as CNC-printing, more explanation here), resulting in a machine that literally builds food in infinitessimal layers until you've got an elegant meal on your plate.
The Moléculaire assembles particle-size components of whatever ingredients go into a dish. The "cook" simply inserts ingredients into the top of the machine and sets a plate in the open space at the base. It even prints out garnishes and accent elements that are as precision-cut as any industrially designed product. A supplementary software pack will let creative cooks develop their own recipes that can be produced with the device, and an online community for Moléculaire enthusiasts will serve as a portal for sharing recipes and ideas.
The Moléculaire looks a bit like a hand-held vacuum, made with plastic and displaying an LED screen in the top surface. The semi-robotic look is fitting for an object that provides intelligent service at a level only seen on the Jetsons. What this invention says about the future of home-cooking is perhaps not too reassuring, but on the otherhand it might be nice to have an instant professional-grade meal for those busy days when you simply can't find a parking space for your hovercraft.
Watch a video about the Moléculaire below:
via Yanko Design