The Toaster Project

What is it?

A 2009 final year art / design / science project by Thomas Thwaites, an alumnus of the Royal College of Art, Design Interactions department, London. His aim was to construct a toaster from scratch, starting by mining the raw materials and finishing with a product that resembled an off-the-shelf toaster available from the british equivalent of K-Mart for £3.99. We highly recommend you watch the videos at the dedicated Toaster Project site.

What do we think?

After following the progress of the Toaster Project, from acquiring iron ore, through various attempts at smelting it, to final assembly, we share Thwaites’ incredulity at the K-Mart pricetag for a toaster – how can so much mining, smelting, fabricating, moulding, assembling and shipping possibly cost so little? On the one hand, the project is a celebration of the efficiencies of mass production; on the other, it is an alarming account of how thoroughly we take for granted the enormous machine of production that supports our daily lifestyle.

What did we learn?

The Toaster Project project is an accomplished bit of creativity that speaks volumes about Thwaites’ preparedness to engage hands-on with his subject matter. It is also an inspiration to more deeply investigate the origins and processes extant within the materials of our own work.

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