Damaged Kitchen Appliances Upcycled Using Cork

Even though they were once hailed as amazing inventions, today most kitchen appliances are available for less than $20 each. Common appliances, like toasters, blenders, and coffee makers, are cheap to purchase, but this affordability comes at a cost. Made with low quality materials, many break or malfunction before they’ve been on our counters for more than two years.

In decades past, things were made to last for many year. When something broke, we fixed it. There wasn’t money to be thrown around on replacements. Despite our access to more efficient technology, today’s electronics are actually made to break. This planned obsolescence ensures that we’ll keep returning to the store, lining manufacturers pockets with big-time profit. It also ensures that the landfill will see a never-ending stream of broken down appliances that we don’t have the time or knowledge to fix. Shocked by how many goods that are thrown away while only slightly damaged, Gaspard Tiné-Berè, a student at the Royal College of Art in London, decided to take action.


Image via Gaspard Tiné-Berès

Hoping to make a point about the treasures we throw away every day, Tiné-Berès created  Short-Circuit, a line of household appliances made from cork and other recycled materials. “Even when damaged, the electrical components unlike the casing are easily fixable; therefore, landfill sites are increasingly becoming sources of viable and perfectly working complex electrical and electronic components,” writes Tiné-Berès. “Moreover, these same components represent a major waste problem, due to their composite and toxic nature.”

To create these minimalist upcycled appliances, Tiné-Berès collected the working guts of other electronics that had been thrown away because their casings were damaged or simply outdated. Coupled with glassware salvaged from wine bottle and chemistry beakers, and Tiné-Berès used the old appliances to create new, working ones that look even better than the original.

“The main structure is made out of natural cork for it’s waterproof, anti-bacterial and insulation properties, said Tiné-Berès. “This design required no mould and can be easily adapted, upgraded, or repaired as required.” As Earth911 points out, the best part is that once it’s time to say goodbye to your Short-Circuit appliance, the cork and plastic pieces can be recycled.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

1 Comment

  • Reply July 28, 2012


    Good – I hate it that these are repairable. As a kid we always had stuff repaired now if something goes wrong – it gets dumped. 
    It’s become illegal to bring electrical goods to a 2nd-hand shop even if in good conditions.

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