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.



  1. Fiona Taylor says:

    What is the purchase price and what is the shelf life of the low tech passive air conditioner please. Fiona Taylor

  2. Franz Kornek says:

    pls. let me know the name and adress of the producer/seller of the presendet products. Ing. Franz Kornek

  3. Sigrid says:

    Dear Fiona,

    For more information about the project and the prices, it would be best to contact the designer, Maxime Louis-Courcier. You can find the designer’s contact information by following the link to the website.

    On behalf of Team MaterialDistrict,

  4. Sigrid says:

    Dear Franz,

    You can find the designer’s contact information by following the link to Maxime’s website.

    On behalf of Team MaterialDistrict,

  5. RAJKUMAR Gangwani says:

    We would Appreciate if You can Send us All Your Product details as we are into Innovative Products ….in IT Solutions and would love to work as your Partners……we are also in Projects with Interiors using ECO Friendly and Natural Products for Wall Covering

  6. Sigrid says:

    Dear Raj,

    If you would like more information about the project, it would be best to contact the designer by following the link to the website in the article.

    On behalf of Team MaterialDistrict,


  7. Allan Evanston says:

    Where does on purchase this marvelous humidifier? As a retired Respiratory Therapist the principles are sound and will not be infectious. Where to purchase? Thank you!

  8. Allan Evanston says:

    I have followed the links on the website and nothing leads to the information on how to purchase the Paper Clay Air Humidifier.

  9. Allan Evanston says:

    There is nothing to purchase, the object is a ‘project’ design and is one of a kind object. Master graduation project, 2018
    Direction, Jean-Francois Dingjian
    ENSCI Les Ateliers