Designed as a deliberate counterpoint to the cold metal, plastic and glass aesthetic of most modern technology, Robbie Tilton's take on Apple's wireless keyboard is instead fabricated from wood and moss. The production methods used are bang up to date, however.
Though the materials used for the one-off keyboard may harken back to a bygone era (if, that is, you pretend for a moment nothing is made out of wood any more), there's nothing archaic about the production techniques. The project was designed by Tilton, with fabrication partner Danny Rozin, as a demonstration of digital fabrication. An Apple wireless keyboard was chosen for its relative simplicity. Its parts are few.
Tilton began by creating a CAD model of a standard version of the keyboard. Tilton would have to set about replicating the parts in woods, laser cutting the parts from only two sheets of wood. Having an intricate injection-molded design, the keys presented something of a challenge, and an alternative means of keeping the keys elevated needed to be found. Rubber springs, ahoy.
The main body of the case is made from 1/32" (0.8-mm) plywood, which was soaked in water in order to achieve the curved form.
Unfortunately Tilton was forced to turn to fake moss to complete his design, apparently because "growable moss is quite hard to find in NYC"—one assumes because Nova Jiang's already pinched it all.
"I was passionate about creating this because I feel the aesthetic of modern technological objects are cold and lifeless," Tilton writes. "Surrounded with tech gadgets made of glass, metals, and plastics—I believe that as a society—we are constantly removing ourselves from nature and have drawn ourselves into a motif of objects that are visually very clean, but also visually bland and tactilely inept. What if our technology lived and breathed? If it required us to water it at night in order to allow it to bloom? If it were both visually and tactilely stimulating would user interactions change and would their relationship toward the object change?"
Yeah whatever. How much do you want for it, Robbie?