True innovation is often born from the simplest of concepts, and this New Talent 2023 Award spotlights seamlessly blended functionality with modern design. Meet Margaret Hughes, a student from the M.Ad School of Ideas in Atlanta, whose fresh take on an everyday appliance envisioned “UTOAST,” elevating the daily ritual of browning bread to a smart, seamless experience. In a world where every second counts during the morning rush, this concept isn’t merely about toasting bread; it’s about starting the day on a note of inspired design. While you can’t buy this yet, it’s a taste of what’s cooking in the minds of tomorrow’s designers.
By: Margaret Hughes
For this project, I was given the prompt “redesign something.” It sounds simple and straightforward, but I got stuck while looking for something to redesign. I went back to the basics that I know about design and what I value – simplicity and accessibility. When I evaluated what I could redesign through that lens, I decided to redesign the toaster.
An appliance in so many people’s daily routines must be flawless, right? When I looked deeper, I realized that toasting bread is an almost 20-step process, from unwrapping bread to removing the toast. Each toaster also has its own numbering system to select the ‘toastiness’ level, which confuses users and can lead to burnt toast or the need to put the bread in a second time. I created UTOAST to simplify the cumbersome process of toasting bread and improve the toaster’s aesthetics on the countertop.
UTOAST is for the tech-savvy, time-strapped, working person. It is designed to be like the Keurig of toasters. The toaster holds an entire loaf of UTOAST brand bread and is sealed in an airtight way that keeps it fresh. The sleek design is functional yet beautiful, so it can be left out on the counter as if it were a piece of art, and the interior is made of nonstick material and easy to clean. The toaster is connected to an app that allows users to set preferences, schedule toasting, and reorder bread. Preferences are also set by color, so there is no confusion on the toast level, and the user always knows what they are getting.
This project forced me to think outside the box and examine how design can make day-to-day life easier and more beautiful.
Margaret Hughes is a designer, collaborator, and creative problem solver who strives to balance unique design with accessibility and inclusion. She begins a project by drilling into the “Why?” behind what she is doing and the “Who?” she is doing it for. Margaret has an immense passion for branding, especially within the food industry, and hopes to leave a legacy of leadership within that field.