Meow Wolf's new Fridge Portal Backpack is fantastic

If you've experienced Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, no doubt you opened its refrigerator and stepped through its "vortex" to another dimension. Now, Santa Fe artist Claire Sanders has fashioned this really cool (pun intended) Fridge Portal Backpack in its likeness. Open its door and a sparkly spiral vortex is revealed, along with handpainted "otherworldly Omega Mart foods and drinks." These bags are pricey ($150), yes, but they're also handmade and completely awesome. She even included a magnet feature inside the backpack's door so you can attach your magnets to it, just like a real fridge.

Here, take a closer look:

If you want one, don't wait. These are super-limited-edition pieces and are sure to sell out quickly.

images via Claire Sanders and Meow Wolf

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Made in Italy: Overpriced, hand-painted, 50s style refrigerators

Luxury brands Dolce&Gabbana and SMEG have teamed up to create a series of hand-painted, 1950s style refrigerators that have been made available at Neiman Marcus. There are six designs in total, all painted in Italy by Sicilian artists including Michele Ducato, Gianfranco Fiore, and Michelangelo Lacagnina.

On one hand they're charming. On the other, they cost $50,000 each (plus $495 for shipping) and have a "care" note that's of concern:

The refrigerator compartment has automatic defrosting. During normal operation of the refrigerator, frost forms on its back wall when the compressor is working and dissolves when it is not in operation. When the compressor is not working, the frost which has built up on the back wall melts and the water flows into the opening provided in the bottom of the body of the refrigerator. From here, it flows into the tray on the compressor, where it evaporates.

The freezer compartment has to be defrosted manually. When the thickness of frost or ice on the shelves exceeds 0.75" or 2 cm, the freezer should be defrosted. A few hours before defrosting, use the knob provided to set the thermostat on 7 in order to further lower the temperature of the frozen foods. Then turn the knob to the 0 (STOP) setting and disconnect the plug from the electrical mains. Remove the frozen foods from the freezer compartment and protect them from thawing while cleaning. Place a container underneath the pipe to collect the defrosted water.

Clean both refrigerator and freezer compartment about once a month to prevent odors from building up.

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Just park this VW van fridge right in your kitchen

I know what you're probably thinking and, nope, this isn't a concept design for a refrigerator that looks like a Volkswagen Bus. They actually made a VW Bus fridge!

This stylish kitchen icebox is a collaboration between Volkswagen and Gorenje, a Slovenian manufacturer of large home appliances.

Gorenje Retro Special Edition Refrigerator, modelled by the legendary Volkswagen van T1 from the 50's, also termed as the 'Bulli', will undoubtedly revoke a notion of the decade with its pastel blue or Bordeaux red colours and smooth, rounded edges. Besides giving your home a touch of retro, it will win your heart with its practicality and the latest technology, making it an indispensable item of your kitchen setting.

This is what it looks like in "Bordeaux red" (swoon):

(Foodiggity, Yanko Design)

Previously: A Volkswagen microbus tent, for camping or just hanging out Read the rest

How the refrigerator got its hum

Technology solves problems. But there's usually more than one way to solve a problem. Cars don't have to run on internal combustion — and they don't have to look like smoothly curved pods. (In fact, when I was in grade school, they didn't.) Our electric grid isn't the result of a rational discussion about ideal technology. Instead, it was built partly based on convenience and speed, and partly based on cost.

Basically, there are lots of ways to solve a problem and for almost every tool we use there's an alternative we chose (somewhere along the line) to not use. I'm working on my second column for The New York Times Magazine, which will come out in September. In the course of researching that, I stumbled across a really fascinating research paper about the history of the refrigerator. See, the electric fridge we're all familiar with wasn't the only option in home refrigeration. In the 20th century, the low hum of the electric refrigerator competed with a silent version powered by natural gas.

"How the Refrigerator Got its Hum" is an article written by science historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan. It was published in 1985, in a book called The Social Shaping of Technology. The article traces the development of the refrigerator and the story of why we use electricity, rather than natural gas, to cool our food today. I couldn't fit it into my NYT column, but it's absolutely fascinating and well worth the read. The key point of Cowan's article: Our world is full of "failed machines", technologies that worked just fine, but that we don't use today. Read the rest