Bin there

Abducting a wheelie bin is the sort of prank you associate with student dares and drunken nights out. It’s on a par with nicking traffic cones and motorway service signs, and then filming yourself doing it and putting the image on YouTube. In the case of South African design consultancy Cow, which took five bins, the kidnap was more of an urban design project – albeit a project they didn’t tell the bin owners about. ‘We were interested in how people decorated their bins by painting their street name and number on the outside to help prevent them from being stolen,’ says Steyn Strauss from the Cape Town-based consultancy. ‘That got us thinking about the space and how the bin works with the house it’s in front of, as well as the street and neighbourhood it’s in.’ Strauss says that five random addresses in the Woodstock area of Cape Town were targeted, and five design consultancies, including Kronk, The President, Room 13 and Am I Collective, as well as Cow used the bins as a canvas for graphic redecoration. Once completed, the designs were transferred to bespoke vinyls and applied to the bins, which were then returned to their rightful owners. There’s no record of what they thought about the guerrilla redesigns, but visually they’re a mix of bright colours, computer game-inspired figures and campaigning graphics. ‘It was pure design for the fun of it,’ says Strauss. The bins are on the streets of Cape Town, South Africa. You can view them at

By Sarah Frater



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