If you’re an engineer, it’s an awesome time to be alive. You have 3-D printers, inexpensive microprocessors, and a boatload of SDKs to build things with. But if you’re an everyday person who doesn’t know coding and CAD, the whole world of gadget creation has probably been lost on you (just like it has been for me).
The Lomography Konstruktor ($35) is a brilliant illusion in the maker era. It’s a 35mm toy camera, complete with swappable lenses, that you can build in about an hour or two. Simply snap out its parts from an injection-molded skeleton, then assemble them with some squeezing and screwing.
In other words, the Konstruktor creates the illusion of your own importance in the process of its existence—a very similar approach that the Betty Crocker brand had in the 1950s, when marketers realized that by removing the powdered egg from a mix and asking housewives to crack and stir in their own egg instead, consumers would get some personal pride and satisfaction in cooking the otherwise convenience-based product. (Though, sure, we all know that real egg garnered a baked product that probably rose and tasted a bit better, too.)
This explanation might sound critical of the camera, and in fact, it’s anything but! By inventing an additional experience around the product’s design, Lomo will forge another level of fulfillment to its camera, and in turn, another level of satisfaction to its groupies with every photo they take. And, of course, Lomo leaves the door open to creating new, quasi-modular products for a new market of casual tinkerer-photographers to build in as well.