This results in up to 100 kilograms of fully edible goods per Swedish citizen per year. While bad eating habits certainly play a part in this tremendous waste, being designers – not nutritionists – they decided to address this issue from a food-storage perspective.

Their focus was on creating a unit that would provide the ideal conditions for a variety of foods. The solution? Roots – a partially refrigerated, partially hydroponic, partially terracotta food-storage unit that allows a variety of food to be kept fresh for longer.

The principle is simple. Lettuce and carrots, for example, are both vegetables, yet one is a root vegetable and the other is a leaf vegetable and, as such, they demand very different methods of preservation. So for foods such as fresh herbs and salads, Knutson and Rubin proposed a hydroponic compartment to allow plants to grow by simply placing them in a humid environment, loaded with clay balls, without soil.

The top door of Roots is a miniature garden, with flourishing greenery and a damp area hidden on the back of the door. The top compartment behind the vegetable garden is a dark, dry zone, creating a perfect environment for dry goods and condiments.

The generous height of the compartment allows for storage of bottles and containers, such as oil and vinegar, while a linen bag is provided for bread. Cans, often forgotten at the back of any cupboard (sometimes well beyond their use-by dates), can also be stored here, conveniently fixed to a magnet and totally visible.

Contrary to common perception, a refrigerator is not actually the optimal place to store fruit and vegetables as it is generally too cold and dry for most fresh produce and, hence, items end up losing too much water and thus deteriorating.

Therefore, for the fruit and vegetable area, the duo designed a slightly humid glass compartment with terracotta vessels, which make use of the material’s natural cooling and evaporative properties. The bottom vessels also contain water to increase the effect. In the back of the unit, water-filled vases provide a good setting for stem vegetables and cucumbers, which can be otherwise  tricky to store.

Remarkably, the fresh garden, dry storage, and fruit and vegetable storage areas don’t require any electricity. The only area that does, the actual fridge, is in the middle of Roots and provides the necessary cooling for dairy, meat and fish.

As a traditional refrigerator lets out cold air each time the door is opened, the Roots fridge is cleverly shaped as a drawer as, since cold air is heavier than warm air, the pull-out drawer allows food to be kept at a constant temperature, resulting in food being conserved for longer. In addition, the drawer design also makes it much easier to see where everything is.

The very bottom of the storage unit is dedicated to root crops, which should never be kept at too low a temperature – 4 degrees Celsius, for instance, is far too low for beets and potatoes. Hence, electricity is not required for this section either; rather, simply terracotta vessels, which are filled with sand in order to keep carrots and parsnips moist and in a vertical position, as if they were still in the soil, while linen bags provide the perfect storage environment for potatoes and onions – offering an all-in-one handy solution to longer-life home food storage. 

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