Design Brief: Design a single-slice toaster from the inside out, considering how the layout and wiring of its internal heating components can inform the form and methods of interaction.
(Course: Products Studio II: Design for Interactions, Spring 2020)
In considering how to re-think or re-frame the relatively universal interaction between a user and a toaster, I wanted to explore a radial motion for inserting and releasing the bread. In doing so, my intention was to add a new element of surprise or enjoyment to an otherwise predictable activity. Once I determined this interaction and how the internal components could facilitate it, I set out to develop a minimal and approachable, yet dynamic form to best represent my intended interaction.
The final prototype below was modeled in Solidworks and rendered in Keyshot.
In the quick animation and exploded view below, you can see a simplified representation of the internal heating elements. In place of the traditional side lever, my toaster design would utilize a metal piece on the bottom of the tray to power the electromagnet (and complete the circuit) as soon as the tray makes contact with the bottom of the housing. Thus, as long as the toaster is plugged in, the toasting will begin automatically when the user pushes the bread tray in. The darkness of the toast can be controlled simply by sliding the dial on the right side.
Sketches and Prototypes
Below is a comprehensive overview of my initial exploration, starting with the simple mechanics of a toaster and eventually moving into subtle variations in form.
Though we were limited to mostly digital tools for prototyping due to the COVID-19 crisis, I was able to create a quick quarter-scale model before moving into CAD.