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Mad Max meets Martha Stewart in These Open Source Appliances

•, By Joseph Flaherty
 He also noticed that once the device was broken, it was almost impossible to repair. This simple discovery led him to brainstorm about how the junked java maker could be redesigned with an eye toward repair, modification, and small-scale manufacturing.
“As more people have access to rapid-prototyping machines, it is becoming much more realistic for the production of quite technical objects to occur individually and locally,” says Howard. “I think that the fact that many of the objects we use on a daily basis have become closed, with technical components hidden behind slick enclosures, has lead to a desire for simple, understandable objects.”

He scoured his kitchen for inspiration and found a number of gadgets that could be scrubbed of their largely cosmetic cases—a coffee maker, toaster, and vacuum cleaner were all easy targets. Howard let the core mechanics of each device drive his creative process and followed a single guideline—his designs would communicate not only how they work, but also how they could be repaired or customized. “The minimal design aesthetic really came out of the fact that the objects should be as understandable to the user as possible,” says Howard.