books consumerism design environment uncategorized

clearing the consumer landscape

Two things that made me think about the landscape of the city in the last couple of weeks. First, an observation from the Bonfire of the Brands blog:

“If you replaced every logo, advert and brand image you see on the high street with a quote from the Bible, you would feel that you were living in an intolerably strict religious state. I mean, if you took all the billboards and put Jesus on them, there’d be a revolution. If you replaced the icons of one ideology with the icons of another, you realize the absurdity you’ve been living with, everyday, your whole life.” – Matthew De Abuita

Secondly, the photography of Gregor Graf, who has taken images of London and stripped them of all the visual clutter, leaving ghost-town versions of the streets.

vauxhall london gregor graf

(This one in particular caught my eye, because it’s round the corner from the office. I snapped the same scene getting off the bus the other day, although it doesn’t quite deliver the ‘before and after’ vibe I was hoping for.)

The point is, we are exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day, urging us to spend. It is the city we live in, the air we breathe. Re-imagining the landscape with alternative messages, or seeing it cleared of the clutter, reveals just how pervasive consumerism can be. We are immersed in its propaganda, and it so all-encompassing we don’t even notice any more. It goes unquestioned, and unchallenged, and that’s what makes it so powerful.

And realising that, perhaps we can be more aware of the messages around us, and learn to tune them out a little more.


  1. Once I tried to keep track of all the advertisements that I came across in one journey but in the first two minutes I lost count and I gave up..! What’s even more worrying is that all this clutter tends to be the same in every High Street! Talking about having a choice in the Marketplace..!

  2. Hi there,

    I am putting together a 20 minuet radio documentary on product placement and advertising, I would love to have a chat with you about your blog and why you decided to make it. If you could get in contact with me that would be great.

    Look forward to hearing from you,

    April Brown

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