The "cool idea" of an open wall refrigerator has won a student from Dunedin some cold cash at an international design award in Italy - and is impressing internet users.

Impress Refrigerator designer Ben de la Roche, 21, was second, winning about $4700 in the Electrolux Design Lab Awards in Milan last week.

The designer's father, Judd de la Roche, said he watched his son give a 10-minute presentation in front of a panel of judges from his Dunedin home via a live webcast at 3.30am on Friday. His son's "cool idea" was one of 10 finalists selected from the more than 1200 entries from 50 countries.

The Massey University industrial design student, who studies in Wellington, designed the Impress Refrigerator that holds food and drinks out in the open rather than behind closed doors. It used less power when fewer items were pressed into it, and no power when empty.
A video of the fridge had been popular on YouTube since Electrolux published videos of the finalists, he said. The video showing the design had more than 277,000 views, many more than the other finalists, he said. "It has really struck a chord with people. "


The winning design, from Poland, of an air cleaning and filtering system had fewer than 5000 views, he said.

The design brief for the competition was to "present innovative ideas for household appliances of the future" and judges said the fridge was "a visual experience, that is energy saving and simplifies the user's life".