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(Source: Wallace Detroit Guitars, 2016,

Wallace Detroit Guitars is one of the most incredibly beautiful, and yet somehow still topically relevant, examples of design I have come across since starting my studies. As a guitarist who has always been partial to a telecaster there is something about this all natural finish and handcrafted piece of work that just makes you stop and think about how much better life would be if you had one of these in it.

But life is not all about looks, and the Wallace Detroit Guitars are no different, underneath the lacquer and rosewood fretboard lies the real beauty. Each handcrafted model is made from 100 year old wood recycled from old buildings around Detroit. This eco-friendly design complies with two of the five steps to eco-effectiveness that are discussed by McDonough and Braungart (2002).

Step 1.  Get “free of” known culprits

“They make sure that lead paint and asbestos isn’t getting into the environment when the houses come down. And they keep literally tons of wood from being sent to landfills.”(Wallace Detroit Guitars 2016)

By ensuring that products used are both environmentally friendly and non-harmful to consumers, and advertising the product with this point in mind, the overall appeal of the product is shown in a positive light and reflects the effective way in which the product has been designed.

Step 5. Reinvent

Now we are doing more than redesigning for biological and technical cycles. We are recasting the design assignment: not “design a car” but “design a nutrivehicle”. (McDonough and Braungart 2002, p. 178-9)

In the case of Wallace Detroit Guitars the redesigning is not “design a telecaster” but “design a nutri-axe”. The use of recycled resources and design methods to put a new spin on a classic design is done incredibly well and, when using this step to analyse the design, it is easy to see how the designer has positioned this to effectively market their product.

The only question that remains now is where can I find $2,000 to bring one of these beauties home for myself?



McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Cradle to Cradle. NorthPoint Press, New York

Wallace Detroit Guitars. (2016). Retrieved from




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