Cradle to Cradle Thinking

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 9.43.17 PM.png

(Source: Wallace Detroit Guitars, 2016,

Wallace Detroit Guitars is one of the most incredibly beautiful, and yet somehow still topically relevant, examples of design I have come across since starting my studies. As a guitarist who has always been partial to a telecaster there is something about this all natural finish and handcrafted piece of work that just makes you stop and think about how much better life would be if you had one of these in it.

But life is not all about looks, and the Wallace Detroit Guitars are no different, underneath the lacquer and rosewood fretboard lies the real beauty. Each handcrafted model is made from 100 year old wood recycled from old buildings around Detroit. This eco-friendly design complies with two of the five steps to eco-effectiveness that are discussed by McDonough and Braungart (2002).

Step 1.  Get “free of” known culprits

“They make sure that lead paint and asbestos isn’t getting into the environment when the houses come down. And they keep literally tons of wood from being sent to landfills.”(Wallace Detroit Guitars 2016)

By ensuring that products used are both environmentally friendly and non-harmful to consumers, and advertising the product with this point in mind, the overall appeal of the product is shown in a positive light and reflects the effective way in which the product has been designed.

Step 5. Reinvent

Now we are doing more than redesigning for biological and technical cycles. We are recasting the design assignment: not “design a car” but “design a nutrivehicle”. (McDonough and Braungart 2002, p. 178-9)

In the case of Wallace Detroit Guitars the redesigning is not “design a telecaster” but “design a nutri-axe”. The use of recycled resources and design methods to put a new spin on a classic design is done incredibly well and, when using this step to analyse the design, it is easy to see how the designer has positioned this to effectively market their product.

The only question that remains now is where can I find $2,000 to bring one of these beauties home for myself?



McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to Cradle. NorthPoint Press, New York

Wallace Detroit Guitars. (2016). Retrieved from




Design for a Sustainable Future

“The thoughtful designer of the twenty·first century will design with integrity, sensitivity and compassion. He/she will design products/materials/service products that are sustainable, I.e, they serve human needs without depleting natural and manmade resources, without damage to the carrying capacity of ecosystems and without restricting the options available for present and future generations.” (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p.15)


(Source: Walks In Nature, 2016,

Walks In Nature by Viola Design conforms with many of Fuad-Luke’s principles in The eco-design handbook : a complete sourcebook for the home and office (Fuad-Luke, 2002). Many of Fuad-Luke’s 14 principles could have been applied to this project with the two most suitable for discussion being;

10. Design to maximize a product/material/service product’s benefit to communities.

14. Design to create more sustainable products/materials/service products for a more sustainable future. (Fuad-Luke, 2002,p. 15)

The project takes 32 bushwalking trails from Melbourne and surrounding areas and places them on a deck of cards to encourage the public to explore these areas. By doing this the project conforms with the 10th principle as it is attempting to raise community awareness and encouraging participation with the local environment in a way that the public may not have previously considered.

To further enhance the environmental focus of this project the cards themselves are “printed on stock produced with 20% virgin ECF fibre and 80% post-consumer recycled FSC Mix Certified fibre.” (Walks In Nature, 2016) at a mill which has ISO 14001 environmental certification. By using recycled natural materials the green focus of the project, to encourage the public to reconnect with nature, the project successfully achieves the 14th of Fuad-Luke’s principles and creates a sustainable product which, not only contributes to a more sustainable future, but to the future of the very thing that it is designed to promote.


Fuad-Luke, A. (2002). The eco-design handbook : a complete sourcebook for the home and office. Thames and Hudson, London.

Viola Design. (2016). Retrieved from

Going, Going, Gondry – Further exploration of the Auteur

The Auteur theory is one which I have done some research on before – if you are interested in some light reading feel free to immerse yourselves in Pulp Fact-ion: An Exploration of the Auteur Theory (Starring Quentin Tarantino) (Colvin 2016) – which filled me with optimism when I learnt of this task. Furthering my excitement then was the chance to look at another two artists which I happen to quite enjoy the work of – Michel Gondry and Radiohead – and one of the pioneers of cinema Georges Méliès.

In the film clip for Radiohead’s Knives Out Gondry’s use of in camera effects and trick staging are numerous but, when looking with direct reference to the techniques attributed to Méliès by Ezra in Georges Méliès: The Birth of the Auteur (2000), there are some that are easily identifiable;

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.59.01 PM

(Source: Knives Out, 2008,

  • Matte shots – While Gondry appears to use a more stop motion approach to filming the use of the television, complete with moving picture, while the image around it remains stationary is a variation on the Matte shot which was utilised by Méliès in Le Portrait mysterieux/The Mysterious Portrait (1899), in which Melies places a blank canvas inside a large, empty picture frame, sits beside it, and watches as an image of himself materializes (Ezra 2000, p. 30)

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 10.59.28 PM

(Source: Knives Out, 2008,

  • Staging in depth – when Thom Yorke is in the bed sliding back and forth past the camera.Méliès occasionally used staging in depth, by having actors move along the camera axis, rather than restricting them to horizontal movement (Ezra 2000, p. 32).

Given the progression of both cinema and technology since the time of Méliès other shared elements, such as the use of modelling and recreating smaller environments (the train track on the television) and the use of montage and overlapping editing, can be seen in works by both of these amazing Auteurs but are more difficult to justify with literary evidence given the drastically different nature of their works. Regardless of this the talent and influence of these two incredible directors cannot be understated – and nor should it – as they have both earned the right to be considered pioneers of film in their own unique right.



Colvin, W. (2016). Pulp Fact-ion: An Exploration of the Auteur Theory (starring Quentin Tarantino). Retrieved from

Ezra, E. (2000). Georges Méliès: The Birth of the Auteur. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Knives Out [vid]. (2008). Retrieved from




Journal Research

For the final assessment task (Assessment 3: Issue Essay), having found myself enthralled by the Defining design as activism (Thorpe 2011) reading decided to explore and explain how recent design projects have utilised design activism to respond to one or more contemporary social problems. Given the broad nature of the topic – and how relatively little exposure I have had to it thus far – I settled in for some research and found two peer reviewed journal articles which helped greatly with my understanding.

Markussen (2013) offers somewhat of an explanation of design activism, in much the same vein as Thorpe – even going so far as to reference Defining design as activism (2011) – but works harder overall to separate design activism from other aspects of activism in general, insisting that although political activism and design activism may share common interchangeable themes the two are not mutually exclusive and can coexist harmoniously.

Lees-Maffei (2012) takes a slightly different approach and stance to design activism. In a recount of events from the 34th Design History Society annual conference in Barcelona Lees-Maffei cites historical sources and argues that – as was noted by a number of keynot speakers in the Catalan capital – Design Activism has become a fancy new way of describing design reform and is not necessarily a new thing. Instead it has been happening for hundreds off years in all matter of mediums as a way of achieving positive artistic expression be it embroidery or engineering.

While both articles contain vastly different content the overall summation by Lees-Maffei (2012) does well to bring together not only these two pieces but all facets of Design Activism.

“Design activism provides a compelling prism through which to understand the past, and awareness of the history of design activism and design reform can inform the present.” (Lees-Maffei, 2012 p. 92)



Lees-Maffei, G. (2012). Reflections on design activism and social change. Design Issues. Spring 201, 28(2), 90-92. Retrieved from

Markussen, T. (2013). The disruptive aesthetics of design activism: Enacting design between art and politics. Design Issues. Winter 2013, 29(1), 38-50. Retrieved from

Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining design as activism. Retrieved from

Graphic Identity – Where did you come from?

Life’s greatest questions have always been; Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?

When it comes to the second where we come from makes up a huge portion of our identity and, like us, where we come from has an identity of its own to maintain. It is for this reason that most states, territories, shires and towns have their own unique logo – something to capture their identity and share it with locals and visitors alike.



(Baw Baw Shire Council, n.d.).

The Baw Baw Shire council logo is a fairly safe and simple logo. It’s neat and tidy and places emphasis on where you are – with the big bold Baw Baw leading the line. The colours used are symbolic of the area. The red soil of the volcanic Strzelecki ranges, the green in betweens of the pastures in the valleys and the dark green figure of Mt. Baw Baw itself with a peak that rests peacefully above all that surrounds it. The design has one simple purpose – to capture the essence of the hills and mountains in which it frequents and act as  “…a unifying symbol” (Glickfield 2010, p. 31).


(Latrobe City, n.d.).

In Glickfield’s On Logophobia (2010) she explains that “logos increasingly have to communicate an ethos rather than something figurative or literal, the designer’s task is to give form to abstract values, concepts and attitudes in a single mark” (2010, p. 27). This can be seen in the more modern, abstract looking logo for Latrobe City which looks to cash in on the abundance of coal mines and power stations in the area. The bold typeface on Latrobe gives it the main focus and the eye is directed by (what appears to be) a cooling tower.

Both logos identify and define the areas that they represent – but unlike a larger more densely populated and well known area (such as Melbourne) – this may only be seen in full to eyes of a local. A weary traveller who had just drifted into town with no knowledge of the area would be forgiven for just seeing  a collection of assorted shapes and colours.


Glickfeld, E. (2010). On logophobia. Meanjin, 69(3), P 26-32. Retrieved from

Baw Baw Shire Council [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Latrobe City [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Design Activism – Make something make something do something

In its simplest form activism can – and quite often does- appear around us daily. Why then is it, by definition at least, so difficult to properly identify? This was the question that Defining Design as Activism (Thorpe 2011) aimed to answer (with regards to design activism at least – which is where we go from here).

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Using the image above – taken from an Inkahoots project for Queensland Conservation – we can see how with the right application the criteria suggested by Thorpe can suitably define and demonstrate design as activism.

From (the) overview we can extract four basic criteria to define design as activism:

  • It publicly reveals or frames a problem or challenging issue.
  • It makes a contentious claim for change (it calls for change) based on that problem or issue.
  • It works on behalf of a neglected, excluded or disadvantaged group.
  • It disrupts routine practices, or systems of authority, which gives it the characteristic of being unconventional or unorthodox—outside traditional channels of change.(Thorpe 2011, p. 6)

Five simple words are all it takes for these criteria to be met – which clearly shows the power of design in activism. The first two criteria seemingly go hand in hand.

The problem or challenging issue? Mining.

The claim for change based on that issue? To make it stop.

The second two criteria, though still present, may not be as glaringly obvious – but are still relevant nonetheless. In todays modern society the single most neglected or disadvantaged group in existence has to be the natural environment. Humans may think they are the be all and end all but without our environment our existence is doomed. This human ignorance is prevalent for the final point as well – as it is we who have developed the mining practices which are being opposed.

It is for these reasons that a visually stimulating design is able to do so much more than a traditional activists protest or angry letter ever could.


Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining design as activism. Retrieved from

Keep Coal in the Ground [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Data Visualisation – How do you see the world?


Since the dawn of the first human, and throughout recorded history, our race has collected data to quench our insatiable thirst for knowledge. From the Neanderthal cave paintings of the past to the unwritten tweets of the future information from which we can draw knowledge is everywhere. When we consider our existence in this way data visualisation then becomes an incredibly powerful tool for enhancing our understanding. Whether it is a plotted graph displaying complex statistics or an infographic, like the one below demonstrating a Cab Double Cork 1440 (aka The YOLO flip), everything becomes easier to understand when it is broken down visually (Reas & McWilliams, 2010).

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 8.59.22 PM.png

(The YOLO flip, n.d.).

The foundation of the image makes use of the ‘dynamic map’ technique (Reas & McWilliams, 2010, p.141); setting out a linear plain on which the viewer can follow the move from right to left in sequential order as if following the snowboarder himself. With a basic understanding already occurring subconsciously, given our instinctive familiarity with a map, the image is then able to break down the process of the otherwise complicated trick using a ‘time-series’ visualisation (Reas & McWilliams, 2010, p. 135). By taking a series of images in constant motion and overlaying them we are able to gauge better the overall process at each individual point from beginning to end.

The turn of phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ has never been more apt.



Reas, C., & McWilliams, C. (2010). Form + code in design, art, and architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

The YOLO flip [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from





First things first – Manifesto or Manifestation?

The First things first manifesto 2000 is, on face value at least, a concise and well thought out piece that aims to re-establish designers as legitimate artists and more than just commercial marketing tools. Beneath the surface of this call to arms for designers everywhere however – or at least those, the undersigned, of the manifesto – the root cause of the authors’ issues seem to hinge more on a lack of personal recognition. Further evidence, provided by Michael Bierut (2007), even goes as far as to identify the 33 signatories of the manifesto as part of the “cultural elite” and questions whether or not they have ever even participated in any form of design for the corporate machine that they so detest.

“A Cynic, then, might dismiss the impact of the manifesto as no more than that of witnessing a group of eunuchs take a vow of chastity.” (Bierut 2007, p. 55)

Speaking in broad general terms it cannot be denied that the design industry as a whole has been impacted by globalisation and become another cog in the corporate machine. It also cannot be denied that a piece, similar to the First things first manifesto 2000, does hold some merit in helping to create a more harmonious public discourse for design as an industry. For this to be achieved, however, those who are writing it must do so from the front lines of design and not from an ivory tower.


Emigre 51. (1999). First things first manifesto 2000. Retrieved from

Bierut, M. (2007). Ten footnotes to a manifesto. In M. Bierut (2007), 79 short essays on design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.