Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
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The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites - © Daniel Alexander
© Thomas Thwaites
The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites - © Science Museum/Jennie Hills
Location: Making the Modern World, ground floor of the Science Museum
Ten Climate Stories is a series of interventions that reveals hidden stories behind some of the Museum’s best-loved exhibits, as well as showcasing artworks from established and emerging artists. It takes a long view of our climate changing world, offering a fresh take on historic inventions and everyday objects, and their impact on the world around us.
Pulling apart the cheapest toaster he could find on the high street, designer Thomas Thwaites wanted to unveil the complexity hidden in the everyday objects we take for granted. So he set about building his own toaster from scratch by mining and processing all of the raw materials himself.
Compared to the sleek and finely made consumer products we buy off the shelf, Thwaites’s toaster is magnificently imperfect. It took him nine months to make and cost 300 times more than the toaster he bought. This contrast powerfully reveals the sophisticated manufacturing and invisible systems which go into the objects surrounding us.
Through incremental improvements in technology we have created a comfortable world which affords us the luxury of purchasing ‘throwaway’ consumer goods for only a few pounds. However, the tremendous worldwide mining and manufacturing industry required to create the products, and the millions of years taken for the raw materials to form, aren’t considered when we throw them ‘away’.
Thomas Thwaites is a designer with an interest in technology, science and futures research.
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