Never FELT an idea would work just by using more words

At first glance, this conceptual cooking device called Angoria, the bastard child between a George Foreman grill and a junior-high trapper keeper doesn’t look like much. One can’t truly appreciate the majesty of this device and so, included here, is the entire description from the designer.

“Graphene, recognized by its micrometric dimension, resistance, thermal conductivity and ability of sun power absorption, was selected as the material to generate temperature. PTFE, commercially known as Teflon, bears high temperatures, has a high index of liquid and grass impermeability and it is used as non-stick material in direct contact with food, especially in frying pans, becoming an ideal choice. With a visually pleasing texture, the trendy felt bears high temperatures and insulates energy produced by graphene, in the direction of food only. Besides that, it has a great liquid absorption capability that allows latent heat process, conducting the gradual energy loss to cool the content without any complex circuit. This means that, for an instance, when you plunge Angoria into water with a refrigerant can inside it, and then exposing it to sun, the vaporization allows the inner temperature to drop and cool the can.”

If that didn’t make any sense to you, don’t feel like all your years of English class and reading books on Material Science were wasted because you’ve just hit upon something Flawesome.

You’d be forgiven if you thought the above image was a real source image for the Angoria, because that’s what the description roughly amounts to. It’s a disservice to all designers when members of the group create conceptual designs which work through what is essentially techno-magic, but we’ll get to that point at the end. First let’s examine some fairly stupefying flaws.

Graphene is Magic
The main heating element for this portable stove is the graphene, the white stuff that’s been relabeled unobtainium in the above diagram. Now while graphene might have some fairly compelling (to scientists and technologists) conductivity and strength per mass properties, like its sister the carbon nanotube, its practical applications are far off in the distant future. Considering there’s plenty of other existing materials that would supply the necessary thermal conductivity, the choice of graphene is either one of mystery or ignorance depending on how you look at it. The entire heater doesn’t even need to be flexible; the above design looks perfectly suited for a rigid heating element. The material selection here is flawesomely misguided.

Felt insulates real good
Apparently the justification for using felt is that it’s a good thermal insulator, which allows the graphene to direct more heat at the food. This is a case of solving a problem the designer unnecessarily created for themselves. They certainly couldn’t use any ol’ felt you find at Joanne Fabrics. If you’ve never thrown one of those things on an open fire (which you wouldn’t because that would be stupid), those things burn pretty good. Attaching felt to something hot enough to cook food is equally silly, so let’s assume that we’re going with industrial grade flame-retardant felt, like Needled Silica which can withstand temperatures of over 1,000 degrees C. Alternatively if you look at electric skillets, the solution is to keep them off the table and to not touch it when its hot; ostensibly a superior and simpler solution.

But the felt is good for cooling
It’s rather unclear how that works. It’s possible to dunk the felt device into water and evaporation would certainly cool the thing down in the open sun, but it’s hardly a refrigerator and would likely be no more effective (if not less effective) than just wrapping a can of soda in a wet blanket.

Running on hopes and dreams
So, there’s a USB port on this thing which is designated for power. Yes, that USB port, the one that can just barely squeeze out 2.5watts of power. If it charges some magical future battery, then you’re liable to be planning to use this thing several weeks in advance for a charge (ignoring the amount of power you’d need from a battery to actually COOK food). If you just need to plug it in… well… USB has enough power to keep your coffee warm, but not much beyond that. It’s certainly not enough to stir fry shrimp on a surface the size of two chess boards.

Heat… you keep using that word
It’s never said how the graphene is heated. If it’s heated from the little addon device via thermal conductivity (IE, something hot heats the graphene), then the heating will be incredibly uneven as it travels away from the heating source. It’s possible that it heats using some form of electric current, in which case you’d need a circuit. You can’t just pump electricity into conductive materials and hope for the best; THAT’S NOT HOW ELECTRICITY WORKS.

Okay, besides all those problems, it’s a good idea?
You’d think the designer would at least get the cooking surface right, but with this week’s theme of flawesome cooking products, it’s really up in the air if any of these designers have cooked a day in their lives. The shallow dip might be good for making an egg over hard, but it’s not terribly great at anything else. Certainly nothing with juices and sauces, which risk spilling out at the slightest bump or touch from a spatula. It’s also unclear how you clean the thing; just because it’s coated in Teflon doesn’t mean it won’t get food stuck on it; and we’re probably still a ways away from being able to throw sensitive electronics with open ports (USB) into the dishwasher.

Upon reflection, this doesn’t really deserve a place on this blog because there is nothing AWESOME about any aspect of this product, only FLAWS. This product’s greatest sin is really one that afflicts many flawesome products; it’s not that it doesn’t work, it’s that the designer has substituted real design considerations with technological magic. When future-magic-tech can be used to solve any design limitation, why even bother designing anything? Design needs REAL limitations. That is why good design is HARD. Because products can’t cost an infinite amount of resources, do an infinite amount of things, and have an infinite amount of technological properties. Designers that eschew this reality for conceptual designs that simply use ‘future technology’ as design sorcery are just cheating their audience and themselves.

VIA Yanko Design