Recoding abandoned products: Student visual designers learn to sustain product lives and values | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1474-273X
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0896


This article outlines the development, delivery and evaluation of a student project for visual communicators in a second-year teaching unit where students are learning about the communication contexts of product value and consumer attachment to commodities, shortening product life cycles and design's contribution to material and symbolic waste. The student exercise is part of a pedagogical strategy to seed education about sustainable design practices and was developed in response to an ongoing research project titled On Wearing. One of the recommendations of this project is to investigate the role of Visual Communication Design in supporting more enduring relationships with existing products. The students were asked to employ the visual strategy of 'recoding' to reconceptualize abandoned products, a strategy of manipulating signs to suggest new values more aligned with the interests of sustainability. Recoding is a political semiotic strategy that draws upon the practice of 'culture jamming', a form of aesthetic subversion that destabilizes the meaning of corporate branding through the clever manipulation of visual signs. Here, we explore recoding as a value-creation strategy that could model and support more enduring relationships between products and people. This article reflects on the students' creative responses to the challenges of recoding within a learning context and evaluates the project's ability to advance the research findings, namely the potential for visual communications to function as a form of symbolic salvage and support for practices of resource recovery and reuse.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error