Bet you would've loved these over the holidays. Much better than paper dishes and yet with the same convenience: No washing! That's right, self-cleaning tableware.
The prototype is the work of the Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine, where they apparently "look at science from a creative point of view." And a useful one! The plate and cup are made of cellulose, and are coated with what they call a superhydrophobic coating, and it's this coating that resists dirt and water.
The coating was originally developed by KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. They took the inspiration from the waxy coating of the lotus leaf.
The self-cleaning dishes were part of Ekoportal 2035, an event organized by the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, Skogs Industrierna. They asked Tomorrow Machine and a research company Innventia to come up with innovative and futuristic products made from wood-based materials.
Other products created for Ekoportal 2035 include a plastic composite made from cellulose that can be created with a 3D printer, and a "nano-cellulose" transparent conductive screen that can be used with electronic touch devices.
We reached designer Hanna Billqvist in Stockholm and asked her to tell us more about how this hydrophobic coating is made, but she couldn't reveal all the details, saying, "It's a technique that is still under development, and it's not patented yet. But it is a process called Rapid Expansion of Supercritical Solutions and involves a wax that is dissolved and then sprayed on the object. The coating makes it possible for the material to be resistant to water oil and dirt."
I guess it's enough to know it works, we'll get to the secret later... hopefully before 2035.