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A modern clay pot cooler, Tony doesn't need power to keep fruit and veg fresh longer

What do tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and melons have in common? They shouldn't be stowed in a refrigerator. They maintain better flavor and texture if stored with less chill, yet spoil more quickly at room temperature. A modern twist on an age-old concept might be the just-right solution to avoid food waste while saving energy and fridge space.

In Germany, recently graduated industrial designer Lea Lorenz developed Tony, a clay cooler that keeps fruits and vegetables cool and fresh at temperatures that aren't too low. The setup is simple: a clay container rests on a shallow reservoir that's filled with water. The water is naturally pulled into the porous clay and, as it evaporates, gently cools the container's contents to 13 to 17 degrees Celsius.

Made of local clay and subtly patterned for increased surface area, Tony containers come in various sizes, allowing users to store different types of food separately. While designed to last, the coolers can be ground down after reaching the end of their lifespan and used as raw material for new coolers. When we spoke to Lorenz at the Dutch Design Week, she mentioned she's working to bring Tony into production.

Clay pot coolers, also known as zeer pots, are anything but new. Hyroglpyhs reveal that ancient Egyptians used them, and off-grid folks have long fabricated home-spun versions. But for consumers without the time or inclination to DIY, products like Tony present an alternative that blends stylish form with time-tested function.

A clay Tony container on a wooden stand, in a light and modern kitchen

Trend Bite

Energy crises, supply chain disruptions, blackouts, and grid failures — systems long taken for granted now seem fragile, prompting people to seek new forms of self-sufficiency. While most consumers aren't looking to go entirely off-grid, they're more open than ever to products such as Tony that help them reduce their environmental footprint and gain a sense of autonomy. How can you serve your customers in their quest for self-reliance?

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Liesbeth den Toom