Inspired Urban Living

The city of tomorrow is short on space, busy and compact. Living areas are smaller; there is less storage but the home still needs to be the epicentre of entertaining and culinary enjoyment.  As such we need to have the necessary tools available to adapt our daily lives, so we can comfortably live and fit within this new model.


Effortless Cleaning

As time is precious in our chaotic schedules, time saving concepts are needed more than ever – removal of laborious daily cleaning tasks should be at the forefront of thinking and creation. Not only this, as our urban homes become more compact and integrated, there is no room for daily necessities of a clean living environment. Vacuum cleaners and bins require space to camouflage, alongside a need for concepts that can clean different and constantly changing surfaces, materials and garments.

What new adaptable offerings can be designed for compact, streamlined and easy cleaning solutions within urban cities of the future?





Even if we’re advancing through new technologies at an exponential rate, we must never forget that our interaction with everyday objects always derives from learned behaviours and habits.

Designers often fail to remember that the end users do not always have the necessary implicit knowledge that is required to operate a new tool. Gestures are the most used non-verbal form of communication; in fact the use of a new object is made simpler if it requires the execution of familiar gestures.




Proteo is a portable vacuum cleaner designed for small spaces like offices, apartments, dormitories and cars. Thanks to its small size and to the manoeuvrable wheels it can aspirate dirt from the floor automatically and reach even the most difficult of corners. The wheels can be replaced depending on the environments surface for better traction.



For a proper use, interaction must therefore be interpreted correctly and has to take place in the most natural and logical way. As a vacuum cleaner the main function of Proteo is already culturally metabolized and widely recognised. Regarding affordance, the characteristic shape of Proteo recalls a cylinder rolling on surfaces, at the same time its size makes it easy to handle, like a remote control, a hairbrush or an iron (objects to which we’re fairly accustomed).

Since Proteo can recognise all kinds of surfaces and operates on most of them, it’s up to the user to decide whether to use it on the floor or on tables, shelves, stairs, sofas, curtains, clothing… It can also be used to clean the inside of bags and PC keyboards (that are notoriously difficult to clean). In addition, it can easily be carried around and used to clean the interiors of cars, motorbikes, trunks and helmets.

In manual mode, the wheels can be replaced or not used at all. In this case, Proteo can be held and used on sofas, curtains and clothes, as well as being a practical vacuum cleaner for cars, caravans and boats.

By mounting a nozzle to the main body, it is possible to direct suction enabling the cleaning of less attainable areas.

The main body can be easily separated for fast and practical emptying, removing the need for expensive bags and their recycling, and the internal filter is removable and washable. When the dust collection space is full, Proteo notifies the user through the display and, for safety reasons, a locking system is utilised only allowing the unit to be opened when switched off. The opening system is designed in accordance with a strong cultural entailment: in order to separate the two units, the main body must be slightly unscrewed, as suggested by two small arrows printed on it.


The continuous feedback offered by the touchscreen display is vital to determine if the object is performing the required operation. From the touchscreen is possible to see the power intensity, to increase or decrease the suction power and to choose between automatic and manual modes.  Proteo can be controlled either manually or via bluetooth by smartphone or computer. In this way you can plan the route, call over the device or just guide it.

The charge level of Proteo is displayed on both sides of the device and it can be recharged through a standard USB cable connected to a PC, a car charger or directly to the mains. Since USB ports are a universal standard, the user doesn’t have to bring along the appropriate plug when traveling.

Proteo can be used by everyone, even children, thanks to the locking system that prevents the device from being opened when turned on. In small spaces Proteo is very effective without taking up much space when stored.


selected Top 100 Projects - Electrolux Design Lab 2013

February 2013