Design & Technology

Design and market influence

Designers are influenced by the work of other designers, and moral and cultural factors. They also have to be aware of the moral, cultural and environmental impact of their work. Designers should aim to reduce waste by following the 6 Rs and avoiding built in obsolescence.


Harry Beck

Tube map showing tube lines in different colours

© Harry Beck, TFL

Harry Beck designed the London Underground map of 1933. Beck's design simplified information to show the next Underground stop clearly, rather than showing the geographical position of the Underground lines. The design was based on electrical wiring diagrams. Similar designs are now used for transport maps around the world.

Alberto Alessi

Silver alessi juicer standing up

Alessi juicer designed by Philippe Starck. Photograph by Daniel Saxil-Nielsen.

Alessi produces everyday objects which combine mass production with creativity. This encouraged new thinking and ideas for stylish and designer products.

Alessi employs leading designers including Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini and Stefano Giovannoni. His designs are based on the aesthetic qualities as well as function.

Jock Kinnear and Margaret Calvert

 red triangle with parent and child on yellow background

Kinnear and Calvert are famous for designing UK road signs.

They used simple pictograms [pictogram: A 2D blocked coloured picture that conveys a meaning. ] and typefaces [typeface: The design and shape of letters. ] to reduce distractions to make the signs easy to understand. The signs use a font called Transport.

Video: Design of modern road signage

Watch this Learning Zone Broadband Class Clips video to find out why Kinnear and Calvert were asked to design UK road signs and why their designs were successful.

Wally Olins

London 2012 logo

London 2012 Olympic Games logo

Wally Olins is a brand consultant who influenced the development of iconic brands including BT and P&O. A brand is a logo or image people associate with a product or service.

Olins and Michael Wolff founded an advertising company called the Wolff Olins agency. The agency has developed corporate images including the brand for the 2012 London Olympics. A corporate image is the way an organisation is recognised by its appearance, signage, colour scheme, products and public appearance.

Robert Sabuda

Robert Sabuda is an author, illustrator and pop-up book [pop up book: A pop up book is a book with card mechanisms that pop or stick out as the page opens. ] designer. He taught himself paper engineering and has designed and produced pop-up books including The Mummy's Tomb and also The Knight's Tale.

Moral and cultural factors

Moral factors

A designer may not want their designs to be used to promote products that have potential drawbacks for the consumer. An example of this could be fast food or sweets that, with excessive consumption, could result in long term health damage.

Moral factors may influence a designer's choice of materials. For example, using recylable materials

Cultural factors

Designers should be aware that some images and text can cause offence. This can be because they contradict people's religious or cultural beliefs.

Globalisation has exposed more people to different cultures, and this has inspired designers' work.

Environmental factors

Designers have a responsibility to work in a way that reduces the environmental impact of a product.

Raw materials

a stack of logs

Paper and card are made from cellulose fibre from wood, old rags or old paper. Care needs to be taken to ensure that wood is from sustainable [sustainability: Managing resources today in such a way that there will be enough to go around in the future. ] forests. The processes of making paper may produce waste.


Inks and solvents used in manufacturing processes may be harmful unless used and disposed of correctly.


Products and packaging can cause large amounts of waste if they are thrown away. However, many kinds of graphics waste can be recycled.

Reducing waste

It is important to reduce the amount of waste materials used in a product or its packaging. This can be done by thinking about the 6 Rs and avoiding built in obsolescence.

The 6 Rs

2 recycling bins, one for plastic bottles and one for cans

  1. Rethink - How can the product do the job better? Is the product energy efficient? Has the product been designed for disassembly?
  2. Reuse - Which parts of the product could be used again? Has the product got another use without having to process it?
  3. Recycle - Which parts of the product can be recycled? Is this information clear on the packaging?
  4. Repair - Which parts might need to be replaced? Which parts might fail with use or over time? How easy would it be to replace parts?
  5. Reduce - Are there any parts in your product that are not needed? How can the amount of material be reduced? How could you simplify your product?
  6. Refuse - Is your product really needed? Have you thought about the people who might be making your product - are they treated fairly (pay, living and working conditions etc)?

Built in obsolescence

Built in obsolescence is when a product is designed and made with parts that are known to fail after a specific time. This means a new part or a new product will have to be bought to replace it.

Designs that try to reduce waste will avoid built in obsolescence.

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