Thomas Thwaites (designer)

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Thwaites in 2011 at Poptech in Maine Thomas Thwaites - PopTech 2011 - Camden Maine USA (6267267862).jpg
Thwaites in 2011 at Poptech in Maine
Toaster and casing from "The Toaster Project", on display in V&A August 2017 Toaster and plastic casing from The Toaster Project, V&A August 2017.jpg
Toaster and casing from "The Toaster Project", on display in V&A August 2017

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." [1]

Thwaites studied economics and biology at University College London and in 2009 gained an MA in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art. [2] :192

UCL is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom. It is a constituent college of the federal University of London, and is the third largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrolment, and the largest by postgraduate enrolment.

Royal College of Art public research university in London, in the United Kingdom

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a public research university in London, United Kingdom. The only entirely postgraduate art and design university in the world, it offers postgraduate degrees in art and design to students from over 60 countries. As of 2015, the RCA has consistently placed first in the QS World University Rankings in the Art and Design subject area.

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." [2] :35 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. [3] 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". [4] The tools and artefacts from the project are on display as an installation in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in room 76 "Design since 1945". [5]

Toaster small electric kitchen appliance

A toaster, or a toast maker, is an electric small appliance designed to toast sliced bread by exposing it to radiant heat, thus converting it into toast. Toasters can toast multiple types of sliced bread products. Invented in Scotland in 1893, it was developed over the years, with the introduction of an automatic mechanism to stop the toasting and pop the slices up.

Douglas Adams British author and humorist

Douglas Noel Adams was an English author, scriptwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist.

<i>Mostly Harmless</i> 1992 book by Douglas Adams

Mostly Harmless is a 1992 novel by Douglas Adams and the fifth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It is described on the cover of the first editions as "The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhikers Trilogy". It was the last Hitchhiker's book written by Adams and his final book released in his lifetime.

The Toaster Project installation at V&A August 2017 Toaster Project installation at V&A as at August 2017.jpg
The Toaster Project installation at V&A August 2017

He later spent several days living among goats in the Alps, using prosthetic goat-like legs and eating grass using an artificial rumen, to explore the life of goats. [6] [7] This resulted in GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016; ISBN   978-1616894054) and an IgNobel Prize. [8]

Goat domesticated mammal raised primarily for its milk

The domestic goat or simply goat is a subspecies of C. aegagrus domesticated from the wild goat of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the animal family Bovidae and the goat—antelope subfamily Caprinae, meaning it is closely related to the sheep. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species of animal, and have been used for milk, meat, fur, and skins across much of the world. Milk from goats is often turned into goat cheese.

Alps major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

The rumen, also known as a paunch, forms the larger part of the reticulorumen, which is the first chamber in the alimentary canal of ruminant animals. It serves as the primary site for microbial fermentation of ingested feed. The smaller part of the reticulorumen is the reticulum, which is fully continuous with the rumen, but differs from it with regard to the texture of its lining.

In January 2017 he appeared on BBC Radio 4's Museum of Curiosity . His hypothetical donation to the imaginary museum was a history book written in 2222AD, covering the present time. [9]

BBC Radio 4 British domestic radio station, owned and operated by the BBC

BBC Radio 4 is a radio station owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is Gwyneth Williams, and the station is part of BBC Radio and the BBC Radio department. The station is broadcast from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London. On 21 January 2019 Williams announced she was quitting the role. There are no details of when or who will be her replacement.

In 2017-2018 he was a visiting professor in the Industrial Design department of Rhode Island School of Design. [1] [10]

Rhode Island School of Design Private art and design college in Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island School of Design is a fine arts and design college located in Providence, in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It has consistently been ranked among the best educational institutions in the world for art and design.

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<i>GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human</i>

GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human is a 2016 book by Thomas Thwaites. It was published by Princeton Architectural Press (ISBN 978-1616894054). It describes a project in which the author attempted to live as a goat in the Swiss mountains for several days, with prosthetic limbs and an artificial stomach.


  1. 1 2 "Hello". Thomas Thwaites. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  2. 1 2 Thwaites, Thomas (2011). The Toaster Project. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN   978-1-56898-997-6.
  3. Cangeloso, Sal. "Nine month project to build a toaster from scratch results in a book, toaster-like monstrosities". Geek. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  4. "How I built a toaster — from scratch". TED. Retrieved 15 January 2017.Includes link to video of full talk
  5. "The Toaster Project". Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  6. Barkham, Patrick (15 May 2016). "No kidding: what I learned from becoming GoatMan". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  7. Graham, Chris (28 May 2016). "No kidding: Why Thomas Thwaites lived as a goat in Switzerland". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  8. "Ig Nobel win for Alpine 'goat man'". BBC News. 23 September 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  9. "The Museum of Curiosity: Series 10, Episode 1". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  10. "Thomas Thwaites". Industrial Design: Faculty. Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved 14 March 2018.