Low-tech household appliances
For the project Matières Spécifiques, designer Maxime Louis-Courcier designed a low-tech and passive air conditioner and humidifier, using materials with singular physical characteristics and no electricity needs.
We collect more and more electronic appliances, with increasingly complex programmes which can be hard or even impossible to repair when broken. Louis-Courcier’s project aims to bring more transparency and comprehension in each object and make them more sustainable by eliminating the need for electricity.
The woven air-conditioner naturally absorbs heat to reduce the temperature of a room during the summer. The air conditioner consists of tubes with a Phase Changing Material (PHC) inside. These materials, which can be bio-based fatty acids, start to melt at a certain temperature, absorbing heat in the process.
The tubes are woven together with high thermal conductivity composite yarn, which increases the heat exchange with the air. Weighing about 10 kg (22 lbs), the air conditioner looks like a carpet and can be rolled up like one. The first two bars are made of aluminium, which makes the installation easier.
The melting PHC turns transparent, making the back of the tube, which is blue, visible. A subtle play of openings in the weaving shows glimpses of a blue pattern that gradually reveals during the day.
The air conditioner was made in collaboration with engineer Damien Mathis and textile designer Lou Durand.
The paper clay humidifier uses the principles of capillary action and evaporation to humidify dry air, offering an alternative to the electrical appliance. The device consist of two parts. The main part is a paper-earthenware extruded surface. Clay, when fired at a low temperature, stays porous with good water absorption. For the project, a composite earthenware paper clay was designed for better absorption and evaporation. In addition, the material is lighter.
The corrugated humidifier is put in a glazed ceramic base, which serves both for stability and to contain up to 4 litres of water (33.8 oz). The paper-earthenware material gradually absorbs the water visibly, which then evaporates through the pores, thus moistening the room without creating a cold air stream.
The humidifier was made in collaboration with fluid mechanics engineer José Bicot and ceramist Pierre Levy.