With the nationwide new openings of even more Targets and Walmarts comes the proliferation of cheap household appliances—shiny promises of convenience that allow us to enjoy a finely brewed cup of coffee or a quickly blended smoothie. Their low cost means more people have access to these little comforts of modern life. But it also means that when these appliances break, as they inevitably do, they’re not repaired, but simply tossed, invariably finding their way into our already overstuffed landfills. But one socially minded designer is stepping in to curb that electrical waste by reconfiguring these broken appliances into brand-new ones.
Gaspard Tiné-Berès is one of the masterminds behind RE-DO Studio, a London-based design firm that reimagines products like bikes and furniture from parts that are repurposed or upcycled. His latest venture, named Short-Circuit, is a line of household appliances that are built from the components of dead electrical products that were tossed in the trash.
According to Co.Exist, Tiné-Berès spent some amount of time studying and testing parts of lifeless appliances to understand how they work, why they break, and how they can be reconfigured into workable pieces. The result is a series of household goods that combines old repaired parts with new cork accents, and includes teapots, coffeemakers and toasters.
True to form, every aspect of Short-Circuit's designs are thoughtfully planned. Even the cork serves a purpose greater than aesthetics; it was chosen because it’s water-proof, anti-bacterial and heat insulating, allowing these appliances to function even more efficiently than when they were in their original state.
Tiné-Berès has set up his wares in London’s Bright Sparks, a repair and reuse shop run by volunteers that finds innovative ways to breathe life into old electronics.
Because Short-Circuit’s designs are simple, they don’t require a high level of technical skill to re-create. That’s important because the designer’s next venture is to turn the product line into a viable business model, most especially for kids and younger adults to usher them into careers in sustainable manufacturing and design.
Tiné-Berès explained to Co.Exist, “We aim to make participatory workshops in order to train kids and young adult about electrical knowledge and up-cycling. We believe that for a social enterprise to succeed, it needs to be profitable, which is why we would like to push the design as far as possible in order to create a high-quality commercial product.”
Im the meantime, the designer is working to launch his first product from the Short-Circuit series, an upcycled teapot which he hopes will hit the retail market sometime this year.
It’s not an understatement to say our disposable culture is wreaking havoc on our environment; it’s polluting our oceans, poisoning our air and deadening our soil. Short-Circuit and designs like it not only alleviate the burden we place on our natural habitats, but they're also proving that sustainability can still include sophisticated design and even profitability.
Would you buy an upcycled appliance over a brand-new one? Let us know in the Comments.