So how dependent are we on electricity? Well the answer is simple, VERY.
Think about how much our infrastructure have become dependent on electricity? Increasing communications, traffic lights, and safety systems. Even the bare essentials are affected, water, heating, cooking appliances practically everything goes off the grid. But it would be interesting to see how we could manage without power. What would be the consequences? What would replace electricity?
Scott Amron, an American industrial designer attempts to change and experiment with this idea of no electricity. His experimental product designs promote sustainability and change consumers perspective on electricity, by visually demonstrating how reliant we have become on the universal wall outlet and its seemingly endless supply of energy. Amron begun his career by studying electrical and mechanical engineering, in 2007 he started Amron Experimental, his one man design firm and engineering atelier known for selling original concept prototypes as limited edition design art.
Amron’s work has been praised for dismissing preconceived notions of how we are “supposed” to interact with basic objects. An example of this is exhibited, with the “Candull” which lacks any electrical wiring or energy to light a living space. The design revolves around replacing a lightbulb with a candle, imploring us to reminisce to simpler times, when humans only needed a fire and candle to warm and light their homes. With this simple but thought provoking design, it also makes us question energy usage which is a strong key element to Amron’s ethics.
There are several other designs by Amron that further explore this notion of no electricity, in the simply titled collection “Die Electric”. While a somewhat morbid notion, the clever design perfectly captures Amron’s ethics and belief on sustainability. The exhibit can be literally interpreted to express that with constant overuse of electrical energy to power our daily lives, it will reduce and/or destroy our resources. Hence, forcing us to live in simpler times relying on various renewable resources (candle & fire as displayed in the ‘Candull’). Furthermore, “Die Electric” is a play on words from Dielectric, which is a material that insulates electricity preventing electricity to flow reinforcing Amron’s ethics.
Another design that incorporates this notion of sustainability is Amron’s “PLUGGED” which incorporates the traditional male socket prongs that have been infused with a bottle cork. This product serves as both a conceptual and practical groundbreaker. This design seems to be a straight forward solution to prevent and reduce our energy use. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, “the average Australian household consumes a minimum 10,656 kilowatt-hour (kWh) per year”. The staggering amount of power that an average family consumes depends in the end on how many appliances there are and the amount of time they are in use. The notion to reduce energy use begins at home however, how is the average household encouraged to do so? This is were “PLUGGED” could be a possible solution to zero consumption, plugging potential energy leaks or be a visual encouragement for better energy use principles.
Another piece of work that takes energy usage into consideration, is the “Glowing socket” designed by Shane Ellis and Terry Brown, that again provides a visual signal to power consumption.This device is basically modelled after a traditional power socket that has a hidden LED that glows red when a plug stays connected for a certain amount of time. The brighter the glow, the more power that significant socket is consuming, prompting the user to unplug and turn that specific appliance off. However although it is a great idea, I can’t help but wonder if Ellis and Brown ever realised that in order to work this product, it will need to use power. Therefore, this product proves itself to be somewhat ineffectual as an electric power saver that runs on electric power itself.
Glowing Wall Socket