Tired of the “cold and lifeless” aesthetic of modern technological objects, Robbie Tilton decided to warm things up a little by constructing a keyboard made from wood and moss. Instead of using the visually clean but texturally boring traditional materials of plastic, glass or metal, he instead chose to build the Natural Keyboard out of organic materials.
“What if our technology lived and breathed?” asks Tilton. “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?” With these questions in mind, he began to work on his interpretation of a basic wireless Apple keyboard. The body is formed from two sheets of wood using a laser cutter directed by a CAD file. The top piece was molded using hot water and clamped into place. The electronic components were added back to the housing once the body was dry. Initially, Tilton wanted to use a paint the moss on the top of the keyboard to allow it grow, but due to time constraints and difficulty finding moss in New York City, he went ahead and used fake turf to demonstrate the concept.
The Natural Keyboard was made for an assignment for a course in Digital Fabrication at ITP at NYU, and is currently not for sale.