Designers and researchers join forces to imagine the home of the future

Hybrid's creative director Stephen Todd, with the HAVA pendant light and purifier.

A tombstone and funerary urn made from the possessions of a deceased person are to go on show at the Powerhouse Museum from Saturday.

The End of Life memorial comes from the studio GibsonKarlo and the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the University of NSW. Together they make up one of nine design teams commissioned to provide the public with a tantalising glimpse into the future of home furnishings and objects, in a show titled Hybrid.

Hybrid's creative director, Stephen Todd, sees commercial potential for Gibson Karlo and SMaRT's process, which combines waste textiles and plastics into a hardened, waterproof material akin to terrazzo. It also has recycling potential and offers sentimental appeal.

"It creates something quite beautiful that can exist as a modern sculpture and actually has elements of that person within," Todd said.

For Hybrid, which opens Saturday, select design studios were paired with researchers and asked to create home objects and furnishings for the year 2030.

"We wanted to focus on future homes because that's intriguing but we didn't want science fiction," Todd said.

Recycling limits, rising temperatures, fossil fuel reliance, multi-generational households, and bad news fatigue were some of the conditions design teams were asked to consider in the urban context.

"The idea was, rather than just do a show of existing designer works, which would be like a trade show, what if we challenge them to work with someone else creating in a different field," Todd said.

Industrial designer Charles Wilson collaborated with University of Virginia academics Gaurav Giri and Bala Mulloth to reinvent the domestic air purifier.

Last summer in Sydney, Wilson had choked on bushfire smoke and then, on the family farm near Forbes, watched dust storms whip across the state's western plains carrying topsoil loosened by a brutal drought.

"At their worst, visibility is 100 metres or so and they are just filthy," he said. "It's a race to get the house 100 per cent, completely shut down."

In Giri and Mulloth's native cities of Mumbai and Kathmandu, pollution levels are life-threatening. Wilson's idea was to make a hanging lantern containing an extractor fan at its base, coursing air through specially-treated fabric developed by the US-based chemical engineers. "The metal-organic frameworks have the most remarkable filtration qualities," he said.