Adi Zaffran’s toaster has five components: rebar rods, a cinder block, wood, a wire, and some fasteners. Looking at its compact aesthetic, I can’t help but think of Thomas Thwaites.
Thwaites’ project was intended to raise awareness of the massive network of materials and production required to make simple household objects in an industrial economy–a contemporary reinterpretation of I, Pencil. It was intentionally absurd, but watching him struggle through the quixotic process, I kept thinking: “Dude, just use different materials!”
Zaffran’s toaster is itself a reinterpretation of an elementary technology–the brick oven–using the common materials of contemporary construction. “The pita bread as a staple food led me to the use of simple and basic building materials,” says Zaffran, “It is very easy to make out of ready-made cement block.”
Zaffran’s toaster would still require some struggle if you put it to the Thwaites test, but with its economy of parts, it would be far easier to build. It bypasses the plastic problem entirely. Besides, if the industrial economy does collapse, there will be plenty of rebar and cement blocks lying around to provide the raw materials. This attitude of making clever use of available materials, rather than futilely trying to create an impossible copy, strikes me as being closer to the heart of good design.
[Photography by Oded Antman]