Thomas Thwaites

Designer

2011

Thomas Thwaites is a British designer and writer. He describes himself as "a designer (of a more speculative sort), interested in technology, science, futures research & etc." Thwaites studied economics and biology at University College London and in 2009 gained an MA in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art. In a nine-month project as part of his MA course, Thwaites attempted to build a toaster from scratch. The project was inspired by a quote from Douglas Adams' 1992 novel Mostly Harmless: "Left to his own devices he couldn't build a toaster. He could just about make a sandwich, and that was it." A toaster has about 400 components: he simplified the materials list to copper, steel, plastic, mica and nickel and attempted to mine, refine, and otherwise process all the raw materials needed. He published The Toaster Project: Or a Heroic Attempt to Build a Simple Electric Appliance from Scratch (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011: ISBN 978-1568989976), and gave a TED talk "How I Built a Toaster - From Scratch". The tools and artifacts from the project are on display as an installation in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in room 76 "Design since 1945".