It takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil … it’s frankly amazing he got as far as he got. A parable of our interconnected society, for designers and consumers alike.
Thomas Thwaites calls himself “a designer (of a more speculative sort).” His thoughtful projects look deeply at the science behind technology, as in the Toaster Project, which sent spiralling him into the history and techniques of metallurgy and plastics production, and Policing Genes, a thought experiment around amateur genetics. We will not mention Honeytrap, an attempt to explore modern criminality through a bicycle theft gone horribly wrong. He’s currently working on a project investigating counterfactual histories in science, supported by the Wellcome Trust.
(TED talk originally posted here.)