Only a team of French art and industrial design students could come up with a machine that pops popcorn one kernel at a time. In an existential experiment of time, patience, and gastronomy, the “Uncle Sam” or “Oncle Sam” is a machine that not only pops popcorn one kernel at a time, but also salts them to perfection with a miniature salt shaker.
Using a simple system of rigs, pulleys, cranks with a little basic science and physics the Oncle Sam heats each kernel using a single tea light. If the contraption seams low tech, that’s because that is exactly the point.
Presented this month at the “Low Tech Factory” in Langenthal, Switzerland, students Laurent Beirnaert, Pierre Bouvier, Paul Tubiana demonstrated the somewhat tongue and cheek wonders of the Oncle Sam. The presentation was part of the final project presentations designed by students of Bachelor and Master in Industrial Design and Product at a workshop led by designers Chris Kabel and Tomás Král at the University of Art and Design Lausanne.
Students were given carte blanche to “reflect on the value of the manufacturing process of an object from the machine to the finished product.” Students practiced molding, thermoforming or knitting, to obtain finished products. Of the six machines presented, they included a rocking chair that helps you knit with little effort, a production line that easily creates energy efficient lamps, a giant punch that transforms pieces of stretch tarpaulin into extendable openwork sacks, a machine that breaks down the production process of animal toys manufactured from expanded foam, and the Marbelous which transforms simple objects by coating them with a thin layer of marbled motifs. You can check out demonstrations of the final presentations on vimeo.