Trend research: SuperNormal – Low Tech


The increasingly widespread use of the new technologies, which are progressively making for more “intelligent” ways of managing domestic life (a subject that will be the focus of the Phygital House macrotrend), is accompanied by a return to lower-intensity technologies. On one hand their use evidences a conscious rediscovery of ancient traditions and, on the other, a responsible attitude to the use of available energy resources and to the impact design choices and lifestyles have on the environment. 


Egloo was conceived by the young Roman designer Marco Zagaria, seeking a low-cost solution for heating small spaces. The small heater, made of terracotta with 3D technology, enables the temperature of a room of approximately 20 m2 to rise by 2° or 3° in around half an hour, simply by harnessing the heat generated by four candles, without any electricity.


The device – made up of four pieces – a base, a metal rack and two domes – works quite simply: the base serves as a holder for the candles, the metal rack supports the two domes, leaving enough space for air to get through and for the candles to burn. The inner dome holds in the very hot air (it can reach temperatures of between 170° and 200°), which is then released through the outer dome (at a temperature of 30° and 50°) and then out into the surrounding space through a small hole.  

The properties of the material enable heat to be stored and slowly released into the air even once the candles have been extinguished. Although not a solution that can guarantee fixed temperatures, Egloo provides an extra option as well as being an eco-friendly choice reminiscent - despite the obvious differences in terms of safety and looks - of the ancient custom of keeping a brazier near at hand for warmth’s sake.

The designer carried out a successful crowdfunding campaign for production and marketing purposes. 


Another design that has gone into production thanks to crowdfunding and the enthusiasm of its supporters - which saw the pre-set target figure double - is Lumir C, an intriguing Korean design that cleverly manages to combine tradition and innovation. It is a table lamp that works without electricity or batteries but, again, simply by candlelight. 

Simply place the heat source under the lamp – a similar method to the candleholders of old – and the thermal energy lights the LED diodes, according to the Seeback thermoelectric effect. This is enough to make four hours of light, diffused or targeted, with no energy costs and with no polluting batteries to be disposed of.


Lumir C is available in several colours and in either a shiny or a satin finish, and is easily transportable to any part of the home that needs it, inside or outside. Moreover, when a perfumed candle is used, the chosen scent will permeate the space along with the light.

Underscoring the nostalgia effect is a forgotten extinguishing technique: simply blow. 


Korea’s Jihyun Ryou has come up with a groundbreaking project, Save Food From The Fridge, from what can currently be regarded as the leading experimental design hub in the widest sense of the term, the Design Academy di Eindhoven. The artist has reflected on the way in which food is stored, fruit and vegetables especially, which we have relegated entirely to the refrigerator, forgetting that fruit and vegetables continue to live and “breathe” even once harvested and that, dusting off the traditional popular customs handed down from generation to generation, alternative and more natural techniques can be employed to preserve their integrity.

Jihyun’s solution is, therefore, a shelf on which the vegetables can be stored, equipped with a basin that collects the water used to keep them damp and which produces enough humidity to keep them fresh, lowering room temperature by a few degrees but maintaining it above that of a refrigerator. The same technique can be applied to fruit bowls, piercing them and setting them on top of a base containing water. She was inspired by the technique employed by her grandmother, an apple grower, to keep them in perfect condition prior to sale.


Lastly, to ensure spices, garlic and onions are kept fresh, the tubs just need enough space for a handful of rice that will absorb the humidity, preventing the formation of lumps. In this way the designer hopes to bring the ancient savoir-faire, handed down orally, back into our everyday lives, applying it to our objects/furnishings and making people aware again of the essence of foods as living organisms.