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Form and woodturning

Following up on the rubber forms and mechanical wood material explorations, we look here at turned wood, how it reacts with the expectation of the mobile phone, and what questions it provokes.

These wooden pills, made for us by Duncan Kramer, run completely counter to the painful, awkward silicone rubber shapes.

Making by Duncan Kramer

We just wanted these objects in our hands. They look a little like make-up compacts, or something else very definitely non-technological. The wooden surface is organic and permeable; it will absorb things. It smells of wood. When you hold one of these pebbles in your hand, it just begs the question: What if this lit up with phone-ness, how would it look?

In the movie The Final Cut, Robin Williams plays an editor who assembles memorial biopics of regular individuals after they die. His video editing workstation—keyboard, screen housing and all—is wooden. It seems apt.

Robin Williams in The Final Cut.

Wood is organic. Wood weathers. There’s something about turning one of the pills in your hand, and taking two and rubbing and clacking them together. The turned wood pills feel like they should be taking part in rock stacking, or one of Andy Goldsworthy’s natural, ephemeral sculptures.


We go through these explorations because we want to discover the natural movements of the material—what you want to do with them. What are my natural moves with my current mobile phone? I tap it on the table mainly, I guess, and that has no function. But with a wooden phone, like one of these, I want to spin it, and turn it over and over in my palm. These are intuitive actions every bit as valid as our “intuitive” want to poke at a keypad button or flip a toggle switch. I believe that when we use these new materials to make a phone, we should look at how these movements can be used in our everyday interactions.

Other material explorations

Other material explorations are linked from the Materials explored page.

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