: to give a new purpose or use to
The silver lining of the depression
The future for graphic designers will be more focused on incorporating a cradle-to-cradle mentality, one that designs not for waste, but to allow for a repurposing of the objects we make. This, of course, is not a new idea and the public are becoming slightly immune to the ecological jargon: sustainability, environmentalism, alternative (energy), green (design), etc. even though some measures are enjoying a resurgence (ie: reusable shopping bags and ReadyMade Magazine).
It is up to the arts community to reinterpret these ideas, to keep them exciting and thus keep the momentum of this good idea going.
Pushing ahead are the industrial designers, making contemporary and formally beautiful objects from recycled materials. [Chandeliers from unwanted eyeglasses and chairs from burned cdrs. (Google image search "repurpose".)] And a number of artists repurposing material as sculptural assemblage were featured in the grand opening exhibition at the New Museum, entitled "UNMONUMENTAL". These artists are making logical appropriation of the items at their disposal, without any overt mention of sustainability. In this way, their repurposing becomes interesting and logical, not a mandate or martyr-like. My own work with design/assemblage explores these ideas.
Michigan's most recent legislation is pro sustainable technology and is offering enticing incentives to businesses committed to advancing the field here in the state. AIGA has the right idea with programs such as the Urban Forest Project, now featured in Ann Arbor. It would make sense for the larger design community to showcase its commitment to the cause as well.
More helpful than a poster merely advertising the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), would be a poster whose function didn't end as a poster. By proposing the fourth R, Repurpose, the poster becomes multi-functional. Once its original function is accomplished (advertising for the AIGA) it becomes other useful paper products: stationery, envelope, note card, wrapping paper. It encourages creativity first, while using sustainable underpinnings.
Why not do as our depression-era relatives did and get the most out of what we have by using our thinking caps?