Just because technology is simple doesn’t mean you can’t keep reinventing it over and over. The toaster is a simple, humble device: heated coils in a metal casing provide direct heat to sliced bread (which is now frequently elevated by chefs to unforeseen heights). While the enclosure has evolved to be quite design-forward (witness elongated models that accommodate large oval slices from round loaves, as well as shiny copper ones that instantly upgrade your kitchen), the toasting mechanism remains basically the same. You drop bread in, plunge it down and it pops up ready to soak up runny egg yolk or dutifully receive a schmear of mashed avocado.
Enter James Stumpf of Dayton, Ohio–based Stumpfstudio, whose industrial designs harvest the strength and flexibility of natural bamboo and incorporate retro metallic and ultramodern transparent elements into previously totally boring (and frankly, secretive) appliances like stand mixers, food processors and scales. His Eco Toaster concept — currently only a prototype — allows you to watch a fascinating process you never knew was fascinating. You love watching cheese melt under a broiler, right? Imagine watching toast slowly turn a deeper golden-brown until a pop-up mechanism in your brain screams, “YES, STOP RIGHT THERE, THAT IS MY PERFECT TOAST COLOR!” Plus, no wondering whether it’s time to clean the crumbs out. They’ll be right there staring at you, on display for all the world to see.
Should this toaster hit the market, we imagine it will make an audible, super-satisfying crunching noise.