By Patrick Avenell in Shunde

SHUNDE, CHINA: Outside the heat is oppressive, the haze visible. Inside the expo’s walls, however, the atmosphere is frenetic. A teeming mass of suppliers, importers and business people, all looking to cut a deal to import the next big thing. Amongst the stands at Shunde, there is variety of product not possible in an Australian or European fare.
This is a market of the imaginiative, a bazaar of the bizarre, a smorgasbord of eccentriticty.

A quick walk around the enormous expanse that is the 2009 Shunde Appliance expo can be misleading. Brands such as Panasonic promoting its air conditioner range and TCL with its flat panels deceive the delegate into thinking this is the norm. A closer look, however, reveals the truth: this is the modern, Eastern equivelent of Roald Dahl’s Chocolate Factory. The delegate is Charlie, and Shunde is Willy Wonka.

And if Wonka was intended to denote craziness and the oddball, then Shunde is playing the part well. So far, in just three hours since the ribbon was cut by Shunde District Premier Mr Su Weibo, has been treated to the following imaginitive appliances. Perhaps an equally amibitious Australian supplier will be selling them into Harvey Norman soon.

At the Midea stand, the Shunde local was displaying a dishwasher with transparent front door and internal flourescent lighting, resulting in users being able to watch the progress of their dishes being washed.
Also on this stand was a neat and compact dishwasher, the full 60-centimetre width, but only half the height, which would be ideal for apartment living.

A small operation called Guangzhou Green Small Appliance Company has just perfected an autonomous and wholly self sufficient vacuum cleaner. Its around 10 centimetres high, and is circular, with a diameter of around 30 centimetres. It cruises across the carpet picking up dust and dirt, and its rubber exterior is able to reverse and divert around obstacles as it bumps into them. The best bit: it knows when its battery is running low, and will automatically return to the charger for a new pulse. Once charged, it will return to work. It could conceivably keep going on like this indefinitely.

ChangHong has taken the traditional compact revolving fan, removed the blades, and turned it into a heater. The heating element reflects off the conical metallic back, to radiate heat across the room. It can rotate 180 degrees, meaning that heat is distributed throughout a wider expanse than a traditional stationary heater.