Design for Disassembly

Design for disassembly [DfD], is a design strategy that looks at the future need to disassemble a product for repair, refurbish and recycle. This strategy asks essential questions that influence the whole design process. 1: Will the product need to be repaired? 2: Which parts will need replacing? 3: Who will repair it? 4: How can this be achieved simply and intuitively? 5: Can the product be reclaimed, refurbished and resold? 6: If the product is discarded, how do you facilitate disassembly into easily recyclable components? By responding to these questions the products effectiveness is increased during and after its life.

The 1950s saw, with the rise of consumerism, disposability become the norm. This was fuelled by mass production methods, cheap labour and design fashion.  The period produced a design ethic that planned obsolescence to promote turnover and created a throw-away society. This led to a massive amount of waste. Over time the negative aspects of this approach to design and production were exposed and because of the levels of toxins found in product waste governments began to regulate.

Though slow in coming, the big shift was in 2004 when The European Union passed the landmark Waste Electrical and Electrical Equipment Directive [the WEEE!!]. This placed responsibility for disposing of electronic products with the manufacturer and drove  interest in the DfD strategy.

The challenge in DfD is as much about product de-creation as it is about product creation and the strategies are to be applied throughout the whole design process.

DfD reduces labour costs as products that disassemble easily often assemble easily. This too is the case with products that require repair, Maintenance or refurbishment. The saving in time and effort means a saving all round and leads to a more satisfied customer.

The strategy’s solutions emphasise simplicity. Designers are able to find components that can be combined or dropped altogether, saving material and production costs and being less impactful on the environment.

DfD opens new markets. When companies make good choices people notice. The reputation of the manufacturer is enhanced creating a following for their products. The design process can also become a driving factor in the marketing.

This way of thinking builds stronger relations with business partners and brings new and environmentally sound solutions to the table. e.g. By working with manufacturers Honda developed a recyclable faux leather that can re-enter the resource stream and eliminates toxic chemicals used in leather production.

Because of the disassembly aspect of the DfD strategy there is less reliance on adhesives and harmful substances in the production process.  The aim is environmentally conscious.  Recyclability driven solutions are being found to eliminate or to limit the use of toxic substances as these substances and their safe disposal is a cost to be carried by the manufacturer.

Design practices evolve incrementally over time and hopefully impact the world we live in in positive ways. DfD is a fundamental practice in improving the quality of life on and our planet. It is a system of practice that with wider implementation will contribute to improve living standards and conserve our environment now and for years to come.






Ignatz Mouse

Created by George Herriman [1880-1944]. Ignatz was a character in the comic strip Krazy Kat which ran from 1913 to 1944. He is an angry little mouse whom Krazy Kat has an obsessive, irrational crush on. This love is unrequited and Ignatz schemes to throw bricks at Krazy’s head, an act that’s interpreted as affection.

I like Ignatz for the way he is drawn. I can remember being fascinated by the way he looked as a kid when an animated version used to appear sporadicly on Australian TV.  In form he’s a kind of bubble with skinny stick limbs that improbably propel heavy bricks through the air. The other thing that is amazing in Herriman’s work is his surreal, inventive, dramatically lit desert landscapes.

Herriman’s off-beat surrealism and the innocent, playful and poetic language have made his creations a favourite of comics aficionados and art critics up to the present day. His graphic style has been an influence on many cartoonists and artists. Ignatz predates Micky Mouse by more than ten years and although these two characters are opposite in nature there are physical similarities. The artist Phillip Guston sites Herriman’s style as an inspiration in the way he approached the scathing, figurative paintings of his late career and a working of the landscape and architecture that is reminiscent of Herriman’s can be seen in the WarnerBros. cartoons, [Loony Tunes and Merry Melodies]. Continue reading “Rascals”

Gary Taxali

Gary Taxali was born in 1968 Chandgarh, India but was raised in Toronto, Canada. He graduated Ontario collage of Art in 1991 and begun work as an illustrator while exhibiting his art work in galleries. His illustrations have appeared in Time, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Newsweek, New York Times, Business Week to name some and his art is in the collections of The Victoria Albert Museum and The Royal Ontario Museum.

When asked about his work and how it’s characterised by a sense of irony and whimsey he gives the answer,”I try not to characterise my work too much because that starts to limit what it is, as opposed to being open to evolving. I like to laugh, I like to make silly visual comentaries on things, I like whimsy, I like irony, I like slapstick and I’ve liked that stuff since I was a small child. That’s never going to go away.” With this, Taxali has strong professional ethics and says,” I don’t give my work away for free, I don’t sign bad contracts, I don’t draw pictures I’m not happy with, I have self resect for my career and my work, I don’t give away my rights ever and i don’t like low ball. I try to maintain industry professional standards.”

Though a lot of his work has been illustration for books and magazines he feels his style can cross  boarders and can be suited to everything. He finds illustration exciting because  on a lot of his assignments he’s felt that he’s the only illustrator suited to the task and has had amazing chemistry with other people involved in the publishing process.

Taxali embraces a range of mixed media. His illustration tends to be screen printed while his fine art is a mix of painting, sculpture, assemblage and installation. His early work was all done without the use of computers though he now uses them in his screen printing process. He says that over the coarse of his career he has become more interested in computers as a tool and as he branches into toy design the 3D software is helpful. He also sites a growing interest in animation.

Taxali’s fine art work and his illustration feature similar characters and themes. Although both these creative experiences are different, he sees it as the same person speaking and that in illustration the concept and the idea you work within are to serve the needs of the art director or editor. His personal work he approaches in a different way, here the imagery is not governed so much by the concept. Both sides of Taxali’s work feul each other. He says  that the personal work and the freedom that it gives him to experiment is a factor of his success in the graphic design field.

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Christian Montenrgro

Christian Montenegro is an Argentinian illustrator. He first studied comics in Alberto Breccia’s atelier and then graphic design at Buenos Aries University. His work has appeared in numerous magazines in the UK and USA as well as in illustrated books. His graphic design work has been for a diverse group of international clients that include Levi’s and Swatch.

Since 2002 he has worked with digital media combining concepts of design with his experience in comics. His style has been compared with a Lego system  where simple shapes combine to make up a more complex whole. There is an intense attention to detail and brilliant use of colour in his highly designed geometric compositions.

when speaking of his childhood and his early influences as a designer he describes a world where his parents worked a lot of the time and the parenting came down to his Grandmother. He also says that he wasn’t a kid that played in the street that much. “I watched a lot of black and white TV. I’d see Japanese animation and a lot of American cartoons from the Golden Age. This was the typical arsenal of information available to a child of my age. Also I read comics and I was fascinated with airplanes. These were the things I drew from a very young age. At the time I only had two books on fine art.”

His teacher, Albert Breccia was the most renowned comics artist at the time in Argentina and a relative of Montenegro’s paternal Grandparents. To get the chance to learn from him was a great opportunity. Montenegro describes him as an excellent teacher who also taught a philosophy of work.“He used to say. You must put all of yourself on the drawing board.” The training in comics put him in good stead. “The process

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is really complex, it bonds graphic design and narrative in the same space. The characters , the costumes, the light, the backgrounds, the point of view – All are up to you. In a way I would say its like making a movie all by yourself.” 

While studying graphic design he says that he developed the idea of style as a graphic system and that both the preparations of comics and graphic design complemented each other in his later illustration work.

Montenegro draws in Illustrator and finishes off in Photoshop. He says he never starts to work on the computer without previous pencil sketches. He carefully reads the text and gets a visual concept. The background is the basis and even though he says that the final solution may be nothing to do with it the end result is the consequence of the first step.

“I’m interested in all the graphics of humankind. All that concerns the human sphere. I’m interested in all that we call culture [man made]. I get a lot of ideas from this.”

“The divisions between disciplines, in the way we know them, have never existed – not since Adam and Eve! For example, the concept of Fine Art didn’t start until the 18th Century. As society changes, the concept about low and high culture changes too.”

Montenegro considers himself as an illustrator who uses elements of graphic design . The line between the disciplines  is unclear. To him the line between all visual disciplines is unclear and that its best to take from the total sum.



Graffiti-Art or Vandalism?

Wether graffiti is art or vandalism is a complex question with so many points of view and concerned parties that to make a call one way or the other is pretty much impossible. This is even more difficult as street art is a form of expression that exists outside a gallery situation and the mechanisms that back up the classification of art. There are also the issues of respect and property that add complexity to the question.

An article I read tried to answer the Art or Vandalism question by approaching it from the view point of, What is a public space? and What is ownership? The point was that the ownership of a public space that is present in vandalism is not present in street art and that street art has the ability to open up spaces as public by inviting participation. This way of looking graffiti makes a clear distinction between pieces and tagging. Though I’ve heard it argued that tagging is akin to an artists calligraphy, I think in most cases it’s more about claiming and taking up space and an attempt at marking territory. What ever the motivation for tagging is, usually when you name or sign something you are declaring that it is yours. Tagging is not about discourse, sharing a concept or contributing.

Another question that arises from this way of approaching the subject is. Is advertising vandalism. Advertising privatises our public spaces. It can be seen as an effective way of informing a public about products and services but at its worst it is coercive, manipulative and by playing on peoples insecurities is designed to trick people into buying what is not needed, nor really wanted and that in some cases, the funds aren’t there for. Don’t think just Buy!

Street art at its best enhances the public space. It’s a commentary  and a concept that offers more than an  attempt at ownership as an ideal and wants to share something that its creator feels is relevant . It has the ability to cut through the blandness of everyday existence and can be a mirror in which to see the absurdity of the world we live in. It can ask you to perhaps look at your world from another perspective or add some colour and interest to a person’s mundane working day. Its strength in being able to do this, is that its found in our everyday environment and not within the walls of a commercial or institutionalised space. It’s public nature is what makes it unique and gives it its wide reaching power and inventiveness.

Banksy is perhaps the best known of the street-artists and has become through his, sometimes described as, subversive work, an international icon. He has been described as graffiti master, painter, activist, filmmaker and all purpose provocateur.

Banksy conceals his identity while advocating a direct connection between artist and constituency. There is an element of activism in his work and a need to communicate ideas which he does with strong images and humour. “There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell your art. You don’t have to go to collage, drag round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.”

His art has a distinctive stencilled approach. In conversation with a friend he said. “As soon as I cut my first stencil I could feel the power there. I also like the political edge. All graffiti is low-level dissent  but stencils have an extra history. They’ve been used to start revolutions and to stop wars.”


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