Thomas Thwaites 17-06-2019


‘Everything is connected’ and other useless aphorisms: Half formed thoughts on a layered approach to communicating complexity through trans-disciplinary design practice.

Thomas Thwaites will describe some of his work that has involved, for example attempting to take a holiday from being a human by becoming a goat, or making a cheap electric toaster from scratch. In both these projects he used a broad design-making process as a means to investigate and communicate complex ideas. He will talk about how the communication of these two projects can be framed in terms of layers, and contrast this approach with some of his less successful work.

For example, his project Goatman on the surface was about his quest to take a holiday from being human; to escape the stress inherent in being a person operating in our complex social world. Underlying this desire to become a non-human is an examination of what makes us human: our spinning of stories out of our pasts and our futures. But what the project was about at its core is ‘progress’: The mythology around progress in our culture, that technology will let us escape the bounds of the earth, the bounds of our humanity, and reach for some kind of post-human destination. But what is this destination? Should it be amongst the stars, or should we in fact be aiming for a future akin to the life of a goat on a mountainside?


Goat Project 046

Thomas Thwaites is a designer interested in the social impacts of science and technology. He holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, and a BSc. in Human Sciences from University College, London.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Banque De France (Cite de l’Economie in Paris), and the Asia Culture Centre in South Korea, and has been exhibited internationally at major galleries and museums worldwide, including at the National Museum of China, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Science Museum (London), the Cooper Hewitt in the USA and La Triennale di Milano (Italy). He is the author of two books; The Toaster Project, and GoatMan both published by Princeton Architectural Press, and translated in to Korean, Japanese and Norwegian editions.