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Fabricating a Toaster, Oyster Ecology, & Fungus Packing Materials – 3 TED Talks

14 February 2011 1,918 views One Comment

Have you met TED?

No, I’m not playing wingman for Ted Mosby.  TED is a conference during which exceedingly smart, skillful people present their work in 20 minutes or less.  The presentations are published on the Internets and made available to the world at large for the low price of $free.99.  TED talks are an amazing source of inspiration and information – and some of them feature innovative materials! Therefore, in this post I present three TED talks that relate in some way to the content on ARCHITERIALS:

 1. Thomas Thwaites: How I built a Toaster from Scratch – TED Salon London, 2010.

“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.”

This talk resonated for many reasons, not the least of which is that I’ve been trying to make plastic at home and it’s quite difficult. You can see the results of some of my early experiments here on flickr.


2. Kate Orff: Reviving New York’s Rivers – with Oysters! TED women, 2010.

“Architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean — thus driving even more innovation in “oyster-tecture.” Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit.”

Oysters are amazing creatures. Laste year I wrote about the adhesive they use to adhere themselves to this and that underwater object (read the post here) and I will admit that since the time of that writing I ate one. That’s right people – I ate an oyster (cooked and covered with butter and cheese). I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it, but then again is there anything that doesn’t taste pretty good when coated in butter and cheese? On second thought, don’t answer that.

3. Eben Bayer: Are Mushrooms the New Plastic? TED global, 2010.

“Product designer Eben Bayer reveals his recipe for a new, fungus-based packaging material that protects fragile stuff like furniture, plasma screens — and the environment.”

I also wrote about mushrooms as a building material/packing material, and it’s nice to be able to learn about the product from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Not that Eben Bayer is in any way like a horse (it’s a metaphor). And, in case you wondered, I have not voluntarily eaten mushrooms since I wrote about how they are being used as a packing material.

Hope you enjoyed these talks as much as I did – and if you stumble across any other videos that are materials-centric please let me know in the comments or send me an email.

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One Comment »

  • Clayton said:

    I wish you were ted mosby’s wingman – would make you even that much cooler. but this stuff is amazing!

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