Cabinet with three cupboards and three drawers.

Laissez-faire refers to unregulated Capitalism, a graceless and shallow subject. It sucks up the natural natural resources of the earth. It transforms them through labour, into wealth, for the few, while causing death and hardship for the many.

The promise of the production of utility that benefits the masses has been exploited to the extreme by advances in psychology and in marketing. Utility is mostly redundant replaced by mass market, disposable and unnecessary junk.

Look at Laissez-faire, both the painting and the article;

  • In the article, Laissez-faire resembles an upside-down hopper sucking up the natural resource of the earth that are, through the process of labour (symbolically, the red, man-made rectangle in the article and the red, child handprints in the painting), transformed into wealth (the gold colour).
  • There’s scant regard for the planet or humanity, signified by the three skulls, and the aggressive saw-tooth edge.
  • On the left side of the cupboard there’s a black rectangle that symbolises ignorance, an unconsciousness that’s a necessary creation of capitalism.
  • Blue is the colour of our oceans, sky and planet – the home to our resources, to us and to all life.
  • During the second stage of development Laissez-faire revealed its function, as a gun cabinet, in preparation for the peoples revolt against capitalism. However, the acquisition of two AK47’s proved problematic.
  • The number three, 3, has a presence throughout the design and represents aspects of dogma embedded in Western culture.

Laissez-faire, the solution at the end of the first stage. 
(Shortlisted by the Royal Academy, Summer Exhibition). 
Acrylic on linen, height 90 cm x 150 cm.

  • In the painting the process of labour is symbolised by the red, child’s hand prints.
  • Vitalised earth is symbolised by the reddish-brown colour.
  • The sky is at the bottom of the painting as it is seldom seen by many on the rough side of capitalism.


  • The organic motifs were created to represent the stuff of life, first by sprinkling barley on to paper, then through a series of photo, digital and painting techniques, arriving at the finished design.
  • When the design was set, it was the transferred to stencils, traced on to the article and hand painted.


  • The skulls motifs are developed from photos I took of human remains at Choeung Ek, Cambodia.
  • Again, through photo, digital and painting techniques the image was developed and transferred to stencils.
  • In this instance the motifs were spray painted on to the article.



Laissez-faire employs the three linguistic signs; symbol, index and icon.

  • Symbol: the colours and forms are chosen for their symbolic values.
  • Index: the skulls represent adversity, death and destruction.
  • Icon: the article is a cabinet and it looks like and functions as a cabinet.

The structural configuration of Laissez-faire uses signs similar to the principles of the structure of language (Structural Linguistics, Structuralism), as laid out by Ferdinand de SaussureCourse in General Linguistics. Saussure is the father of modern Linguistics. His work has influenced most of the Social Sciences.


In design, Postmodernism, follows culture. Like written and spoken language, design language and visual language comprises of an arrangement of signs, a signifier and a signified in a context with meaning.

The approach to the project is in two parts. The first part is to decide unambiguously on a subject. Followed by research and development on paper aiming for a clear final outcome that summarises the subject concisely. This research and development is best done when there is no final product in mind so as not to bias the outcome. Without clarity here, the second part cannot begin. 

The second part is to use the elements from the first part as structural components in the design of an object, now to be decided. Consider choosing an object that contributes to the overall significance of the subject. The significance of the configuration and function of elements should be kept in mind and contribute to the overall significance of the finished article.

The whole process is to ensure that everything signifies what you intend it to signify and not a pop-up prototype from the designer’s unconscious.


My work has been categorised as postmodernism or postmodern design and I’m not sure that this is a comfortable home for it. Perhaps at the very extreme of postmodernism there’s a gate and path to where it truly belongs. 



Acrylic and mixed media on linen, 90 cm x 150 cm

Organic Stuff, developed for Laissez-faire

A Limitless Fixed Pattern