combination toaster / egg cooker.....what the?

I saw this thing the other day and it really got me thinking: a first for everything I guess…

Is this design?

Is this innovation? Is this what we do?

what about all those ideals, all the things we talk about at IDSA meet ups? Does it all come down to making a toaster that cooks and egg? Figuratively, I’ve done the same on projects for sure… just thought this really epitomized what we have to deal with daily…

I didn’t see it in the core77 bullits, or ID magazine, but it is everywhere

Any thoughts?


this is an unmet need, yo, … for breakfast? :slight_smile:

Haven’t seen this before, but LG makes a microwave-coffee maker and a microwave toaster.


and it bugs me when someone refers to ID as being an inventor.



Its chattering in a chattering class, pundits creating puns, DesignBabble really. Its a vehicle to express a need to either:
A: justify and exclaim earnestly that what they are doing_really, really, REALLY matters_ to 90% of the world at large (no I really really REALLY do mean it…)
B: to claim a ridiculous sense of entitlement as an arbiter of taste

You are fortunate that as an Ekin you don’t have to deal with this daily. (come on I know you got the tattoo…)

I get stuff like this A LOT. and I usually scratch my head and say “mmmmmmkay?!” That is until the retainer fee clears my bank account, then I graciously hop on the bandwagon and ride the lightning.:smiling_imp:

Isn’t expressing ‘entitlement as an arbiter of taste’ essentially what we all do? This accelerating curve looks nicer than that plain .50" fillet, why? Black is cooler than white, why?

When you take performance out of the equation, all you have left is taste. I don’t know how this performs - it might be hard to get the egg out of the cooker - but to have one device that does my whole breakfast is kind of nice in a Jetsons kind of way. Probably created by some nameless designer slaving away over the tooling shop in darkest Mongolia. Apologies if someone on this board actually did that.

The taste question can be boiled down to - do you care or don’t you. The fact that it’s black and silver and has a clear cover is enough for 90% of us. Yes, it looks like a Ziba-designed hard drive from the early nineties, the ‘humping block’ phenomenon.

Would I accept money for doing work like this? Well…I’d make it look a hell of a lot better…but yes, probably I would. GWB’s terrorist manufacturing lines are gonna blow the world up a lot quicker than I will, wasting plastic and designing toasters.

“Is this innovation? Is this what we do?”
If you would group invention under innovation, then yes.

This product isn’t world changing, but if I were an egg sandwich man, I’d be sick of taking a pan out every day and hand frying me up an egg. This would certainly make my life better by reducing the time I spend in the kitchen cooking and cleaning extra utensils and dishes. One could argue this product not only saves time, but encourages a more nutritious lifestyle, as it speeds up and enables the preparation of said nutrition.

A product like this serves a certain niche market, but I’d argue that saving the users in this target market 5 minutes a day is of greater general value than the singular hour and a half of buyer’s exhilaration a small group of fashionistas get from buying a retro air-jordan fashion dj bag or the tiny glow it adds to Nike’s “brand halo”.

Greater general value, perhaps in terms of a potential end user’s time - but the margins for the company that makes the E/T I’m sure are much smaller than a limited run of sneakers, and who the heck will remember the design firm, company, much less the designer who invented the E/T?

Sure, it’s not cover worthy. Not even purchase-worthy, to me anyway. Somebody has to do this shit. Glad it’s not me. No…I get to go to conferences on company dime and talk about design while other jokers work Saturdays to get this thing done. In Alias.

Walmart has thin margins but they seem to be doing ok given that whole “volume” thing. The custom graphiti inspired tshirt shop around the corner probably has larger margins, but we’ll see who gets snuffed out first. I don’t know the numbers, but i could see them selling a bunch of these on HSN and the like, as companies such as (even with their thin margins) can still afford a web domain.

Plenty of design companies get or give themselves press for incredibly poor selling/looking/functioning products, and the good press doesn’t make their crappy product any better. For example, Astro does a bunch of virgin audio products that fail, and continuum designs a masterlock that doesn’t sell. Bascially, plenty of crappy, useless items make their way into the general design knowledge, without mention of their profitability or benefit to the user.

Regardless, this is the kind of product that can be sucessful without good design press. If i designed this and it showed up in ID magazine, i’d be pissed a saleable design is sitting next to a profile of some dirty fashion / textile artists compound in Williamsburg.

I could also see everyones perception change if instead of being introduced to it via yo’s negative analysis, it was on some ID company’s portfolio page detailing their research of the user experience in the morning for housewives cooking for their kids, and on-the go young professionals lacking proper nutrition before they go to their demanding jobs, with the purpose of discovering “latent user needs” that require “tiny innovations”. In this case, i think many opinions would change from “why would anybody want this” to “well, I sure has hell don’t want it, but i guess there’s a market for it”

Yeah, but this website and forum is about DESIGN.

The E/T could be a successful item, if WalMart wanted to sell it, and maybe it could save people five minutes in the morning if they wanted eggs and toasties. And sure, it might generate more profit than the dirty fashion/textile artists you mentioned (anyone specific?)

But none of that stops this product from being a laughable Frankensteiny example of how design and innovation can help a company’s bottom line.

  1. It doesn’t even look like an industrial designer created this - more like a AutoCAD consultant.
  2. Who makes this? The Oakland Raiders? Any clue as to corporate brand or image communicated in the form, or function? The logo isn’t even prominent enough to discern, but it is absolutely generic.
  3. Can’t say for sure, but I don’t detect much testing or user experience knowledge incorporated in this piece. The color BLACK, the tight edges around the inevitably messy egg area, tiny labeling, are the cues here.

I’ve got as much of a problem with the “mainstream” design press as you do, dual5 - remember we should be grateful we get any press at all, since it seems hardly anyone knows what an industrial designer does. But maybe those Virgin products got noticed because they were a collaboration between a high-profile record/airline/lifestyle brand and a good design house. It was what the designers brought to the table, in all the examples you disparaged, that made the thing unique, even if it was a commercial failure for other reasons.

So is it innovation? Yes. Invention? Sort of. Is it the kind that the ID profession should be trying to promote? Absolutely not. And if this can be offered up as the kind of innovation that can save businesses from being stuck in the messy middle, then we need more press about good design firms doing good, informed work.

“Yeah, but this website and forum is about DESIGN.”
Ok. Where did I divert off the topic of design?

Walmart does sell it Robot or human?. is it a successful item now? Gotta love a search for “egg toast walmart” on google. I don’t actually remember the issue of ID that i’m referencing, but there was an image of a flaky looking fellow wearing some crochéd tank top and futzing with a dress. It was published within the last six months or so.

1: I would argue that this doesn’t look like an industrial designer created it in the traditional sense (no cool curves no flashy colors etc) but one, maybe even two did, and it’s a pretty successful product. Just because you don’t like the aesthetics of it does not mean it wasn’t made by a designer. What, to you, makes it look like the work of a CAD monkey? I understand you don’t “like” it, but this isn’t meant to be high design, and given material choices and manufacturing methods defined by price, i’d argue its pretty successful given the intended goals.

2: Who makes this? Back to Basics makes this. Again a little bit of research can answer these questions, even if they are rhetorical. Perhaps, given that they are a “no-name brand” company, (and seem quite happy to be that way), a prominent logo may be viewed as a bad thing, as it would detract from a design that was obviously made to emulate the look of standard low-grade kitchen products. this was a featured item on the product page as well: is for sale | HugeDomains It’s a $150 expresso maker that has similar colors, and its form isn’t anything special. So i would say a 40 dollar toaster looking like a 150 dollar coffee machine is an accomplishment.

3: I can make up reason’s (whether they were considered or not by whoever designed this thing) for your questions. You answer one of your own questions when you point out the black color and messy eggs: Does black look as dirty as white at the same level of dirtyness? what about beige, another common kitchen appliance color? I can see your point with the creases where food could get stuck, but it does seem that poaching or boiling eggs is a less messy method of cooking that your standard frying, and since the egg is covered, the possibilities for spillage are slim. A product generally seen as well designed,, has some pretty bad choices associated with it, for instance, it’s white and it is used to make dark coffee, which stains easily. Even in a store with just fingerprints, it gets dirty as soon as it’s put on the shelf.

I’m not quite sure what press you’re reading, but when many prominent magazines like fast company and business 2.0 feature design or companies utilizing design at least once an issue, and david kelley books are on the bestseller list, I’d say design is getting its fare share of press.
It bothers me that you defend a product that a high profile design company designed, and was a commercial failure for being “unique”. It wasn’t unique. It was a cookie cutter variation in a market fully saturated with the exact same product in a different color. When a company like virgin puts its faith and money in a design firm to create a successful product, the product fails, yet astro still puts it on the front page of their site, it does nothing but hurt the general opinion of us designers as being disconnected and not business savvy, making it that much more difficult to get the next project. Even if it WAS unique, it would still be a bad product because of its failure. What good is a design if it doesn’t meet its intended goal?

I’m not saying this product will promote back to basics from the (lower)middle of the pack to the top, but even Jack Welch has said after leaving GE that his theory of number one or two is not necessary. Design for the middle is as valuable as design for the top. And i think a low profile successful design does more for our profession than an unsuccessful design for the top, as it tells a much more compelling story to a businessman who will greenlight a project. It’s the difference between “we did a great design and it did bad” and “we did a willingly mediocre design and it did great”

Not sure why you felt you needed to poke at a product I designed that people love to attempt to prove a case for poor design… but hey, to each their own right? Designers for poor design… it could be a new thing…

Is the reason those Virgin Audio products or Master Lock did not sell related to design at all? I don’t think so. There are many factors that lead to a product being adopted or not by the mass market. In both those cases there were great designs in place but other things were not.

It comes down to the old what is a better example of Automotive Design? A Ferrari or a Ford? What is a better example of architecture? A Frank Lloyd Right home or some anonymous raised ranch?

Why settle for either? How about “we did an inspirational, beautiful design that functioned superb, sold great?”

How can we bring great design at a great price to the masses at a consistent level? Ask Target and Ikea I guess…

Michael, let me first say I do not mean any disrespect by giving your bag a little poke. You are a very talented guy, and you’ve made some really nice looking products, but why are you poking at the toaster? It’s obvious that someone spent time on it and perhaps somebody somewhere does indeed love the thing. Why can you knock a toaster, but a fashion accessory can’t be critiqued?

You accuse me of being a champion of bad design… Perhaps you could start by expanding on why you think the toaster is a bad design, besides it not being a topic of discussion at an IDSA meeting –the only reason I’ve seen so far. Also, what exactly is a worthy topic of discussion at an IDSA meeting and why is this not it?

And then why is your bag a good design?
To me, a throwback fashion bag with limited production runs does not qualify as good design. It is an excellent styling exercise, adapting a previous design onto a new form, but what makes it better designed than a toaster with egg cooker that makes a breakfast in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee? Ok I get that a small subset of the population LOVES your bag, but love is not always rational. Design should be. I love my Philippe Starck fly swatter. I thought it rather irrational that it broke the first time I actually swatted a fly with it.

It is naïve to suggest that the sales of a product in the MP3 market is in no way related to design. An informal survey I just performed (sample size = 3) by showing a picture of the virgin product and asking “would you buy this product” elicited a laugh, another laugh, and a definitive NO. Nobody asked about storage space or features etc. They simply looked and laughed. This seems like an awfully important barrier to entry, more so than poor shelf placement or marketing.

The continuum lock doesn’t fit around many of the things people need to lock, and it is easy to tell this by simply looking at it in a store in its packaging. Furthermore, the design they came up with is more expensive but obviously there was no value add for the customer. So should I assume that because it looks nice it is a good design, and forgo facts like the design inhibits the actual use of the object? What other factor is more important than design in this case?

Would you tell a potential client “yes this product didn’t sell well, but it sure looked great! It was inspirational even!”? What is the value proposition for a business leader to hire a designer who does “inspirational” work that doesn’t sell? How is their opinion of designers colored after a meeting like this?

Disclosure: I have an apartment filled with Ikea furniture and I own a target-graves mop. I’ve broken enough ikea shelves to afford an heirloom quality piece… this isn’t good design. I have put together every piece of ikea I’ve ever gotten without a hitch. This is GREAT design. My graves mop’s stupid blue handle fell off on first use. This is a common problem with those. The main interface of the sponge to the stick is held on by a tiny metal screw that hurts my fingers- and this is meant to be turned at every use. HUGE broken handle on the top, tiny painful screw on the bottom. Is this a consistent level of good design?

I can’t help looking at this and thinking that a company wanted to leverage existing tools, make some minor modifications and kick out a new SKU. Having working in the appliance industry, I seriously doubt a lot of research went in to this; or at least research that was heeded to the degree that I’d prefer.

If consumers liked the idea, that’s fine. But do they want something designed around leveraging existing tools or do they want an elegant solution? I’d venture consumers don’t care about a company’s need to use existing components, or ability to quickly and easily modify electronics. To that end, I wonder why this product looks the way it does: like a toaster with something grafted to it.

Free from the constraint of using existing components and solutions, is this the design I think I’d arrive at had I been asked to make a device that combined these functions?


I think that this quote sums it up nicely. Problem is a majority of work done in Design is loaded with constraints. What you can do with the constraints and the organization you are working with determines the solutions.

Someone got a light bulb going off in their head when they were making an egg sandwich one morning. It probably was thought of as a novelty but was eventually pursued using whatever things were laying about. Could it have been better designed? Sure it could have but thats a relative point. Would it have paid for itself faster that way or this way? Depends on the constraints to get it done…again relative. Does it make it good or bad? Well, do you Ride the Lightning or are you an Arbiter of Taste?

On one hand you act as an Arbiter of Taste and create very well thought out higher ended design that designers want; and on the other hand you Ride the Lightning as best you can working within a lower ended consumeristic and exploitative “Design” that non designers think design is.

Can you do both? yes. Does it happen a lot? No.

I would love to work free from constraints and execute design as it should be done. But in reality since I have no access to a trust fund, or have someone to pimp me out, it happens very rarely.

I actually have one.
Got it for my girlfriend, who loves it, its fast and easy to use/clean. Healthier than McD’s and the money saved pays for a real meal out each week.

Beutiful - no
Profitable - probably
Usable - yes
Sustainable - well, better than going to McD’s at least.

The question about what vernacular design means to our proffession seems moot. Probaby over time less Product will have a designers time and effort, this is true in Architecture where 90% of what gets built in the US doesn’t use one.
What can be done to reduce the desire to use amatures?

All I want to know is where do you put the bacon?

It’s missing the bacon fryer. I am upset now.

I disagree. As more product is made using rapid-manufacturing technology, variety will explode. Free from traditional manufacturing constraints (though not necessarily existing engineering solutions), design will become an even greater factor in a product’s success. Product moves toward media.

This will also happen in architecture which is already starting to explore rapid-manufacturing technologies on a larger scale. For reference (happened to have that link on my blog otherwise I’d find something else).

Csven, question: With adavnce of rapid manufacturing, what will be the incentive or need for someone to utilize or involve designers?

Seems like with rapid manufacturing there is less of a need to bring a designer into the process. In that I mean, for engineering and quick turn design jobs which constitute a distinct majority of design today.

if product moves toward media, does that mean ID loses it substance and becomes like media, devoid of use and function beyond entertainment, style and fashion?

Tools do not replace skill, talent, or drive. As easy as it is for people to write a novel and have it published via print-on-demand, so far it appears that the people mostly using these services (for now) are vanity publishers, people who basically aren’t that good but want to claim that they’re “published authors”. They buy a few copies. Some friends buy a few. But mostly that’s it. They’re not good enough to really attract attention. I’ll be interested when the first break-out POD book is published, but so far I’ve not heard of one.

Same is true of music. There are plenty of low-cost tools. Anyone could create music and distribute it online. Yet there really don’t seem to be that many. Not really. I don’t know anyone doing it. There’s been no explosion of bands playing the local scene where I live. How can that be? Simple. No interest. No talent. No drive. Lots of people don’t want to create, they just want to get the result (there have been recent stories and blog entries about crowd-sourcing and how it really doesn’t seem to make sense if so few people really contribute… and the number of YouTube contributors - who, btw, are mostly uploading someone else’s content - is miniscule compared to the watchers).

The assumption made by too many people is that art (in all its forms) is easy. It’s not. That’s why we don’t see it now in those areas with all the options available to anyone who wants to try. And why we won’t see it when it hits product design. There will be some. Just like what happened in the 2D graphics world. But not an overwhelming number.

I’d say it’s already about entertainment, style and fashion. In my opinion, the difference will be mostly inside the industry. Options will open up for designers. More of us will start selling on eBay and Etsy and other sites. We’ll be more aware of our own reputations and manage them with more care. We’ll also see more design rip-offs. It’s much easier to steal from an independent than a corporation. We’ll see people swapping CAD files the way they now swap songs and other media. Since everything is digital, everything is up for grabs. When people can fab their own, they’ll be doing what they do already with music and movies. And just as independent videographers are rethinking YouTube and liking Revver, designers will also look at ways to both protect and leverage their content.

The next ten years is going to be pretty interesting imo.