CCS – Critical Design – Research

Critical & Contextual Studies

A video we have been given to watch for our Critical Design essay, is a TED Talk by Designer Thomas Thwaites-

‘It takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil … it’s frankly amazing he got as far as he got. A parable of our interconnected society, for designers and consumers alike.’

Although Thwaites never calls his process/design ‘critical design’ he is in fact generating a piece of critical design. His process highlights  the simple things we take for granted that are unbelievably complex and take sophisticated equipment to collect all the parts and assemble them into something that works, like a toaster. Thwaites says the toaster worked for around 5 seconds and he takes that as a partial success.

However I don’t believe that success was the main aim here, whether he succeeded or not still draws attention to and opens up a much wider discussion about how a simple thing like a toaster, is in fact, not so simple at all.


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