the toaster project


Not long after publishing his first book, London designer Thomas Thwaites found himself with no real job and in relationship trouble. His book, The Toaster Project — about his attempt to build a toaster from scratch — was a huge success, but he found the whole business of being a celebrity thinker a hard act to follow.

To be human is to worry about getting by, doing better, finding love and accepting the march of mortality. Thwaites decided to try to escape the burden of being human — and he would do it by becoming a goat.

Hear his conversation with the entirely non-goatlike Scott Simon here.

(On a side note, did you know that in German, the noise a goat makes is “meck meck meck?”)

– Petra

Never have I come across a book that better captures the mindset of a Bennington student. Now, I qualify that by saying Bennington students are not all of one mind, BUT there’s a certain quality that runs through so many. It’s some sort of amalgam of seeing the world differently combined with the eagerness to make things your way and just not accepting life as it’s presented. I find it hard to characterize in words, but it’s best embodied by students who made their own cider press, and another group that made a boat. Why? Because they had the belief they could do it and the desire to see it done.

Thomas Thwaites has both of those desires, but he adds a bit of different message to the project. He wants to show how disconnected we’ve become from the technology we use. He takes a relatively simple household appliance, a toaster, and tries to make it from scratch - not just building from bought pieces, but actually mining his own materials, shaping them, and then assembling. Technology, even the relatively basic, is far beyond our own individual capacity. As he says, individually we can create technology that was used around the 1600’s. Only collectively, on a mass scale, are we able to create technology that’s used today. Which is both fascinating and slightly off-putting.

Thwaites has no particular skills or education that make him suited for this endeavor. And that makes the book even more enjoyable. His best quality is his ingenuity and his drive to try and complete it. And so the story is interesting and the pictures look like they come from an iPhone. It’s not splashy, it’s just someone who dared to try. And that is just so Bennington.

Book 95 of 189