Thomas Thwaites
Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2011, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
5 x 7.5 inches, paperback, 192 pages, 143 illustrations
ISBN: 9781568989976
Suggested Retail Price: $19.95

From the Publisher: Where do our things really come from? China is the most common answer, but Thomas Thwait es decided he wanted to know more. In The Toaster Project, Thwaites asks what lies behind the smooth buttons on a mobile phone or the cushioned soles of running sneakers. What is involved in extracting and processing materials? To answer these questions, Thwaites set out to construct, from scratch, one of the most commonplace appliances in our kitchens today: a toaster.


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Julie Lasky

While a graduate student at the Royal College of Art, Thwaites undertook to build an electric toaster from raw materials. His account of extracting iron from rock, hand-carving a wooden mold for forming molten plastic, precipitating copper out of pools of acidic mine waste, and melting Canadian coins for their nickel manages to be both hilarious and sober. In the end, Thwaites’s toaster was a spectacular failure—a gloppy aesthetic and functional mess that cost £1187.54, or 300 times more than the £3.94 commercial model that inspired him—but it taught stinging lessons about environmental responsibility.

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