Sunday, March 4, 2012

Attila can compactor | Julian Brown | Rexite, Italy | 1993

Julian BrownJulian Brown
Rexite, Italy, 1993

Julian Brown was born in Northampton, Great Britain, in 1955.
He earned a degree in Industrial Design and subsequently started his career at David Carter Associates.  Between 1980 and 1983, Brown completed his professional training by obtaining a Masters degree in Industrial Design from the Royal College of Art in London, followed by a cooperation with the Porsche Design practice. In 1986, he began working professionally and together with Ross Lovegrove, founded the Lovegrove and Brown Design Studio in London.  Brown later opened Studio Brown in Bath, Great Britain, where which he continued in industrial design.  Brown has lectured at the “Hochschule der Künste” in Berlin, Germany and he currently works and lives in Bath, Great Britain.

Good Design 1996 logo

Julian Brown won a “Good Design” award in 1996 in the Appliances category with the Attila can compactor, designed by Studio Brown and produced by Rexite, Italy. 

Rexite logo

Rexite was founded in 1968 in Milan to produce design furniture accessories for home and office.  The company secured the services of a small group of talented designers and developed a “classic” contemporary collection that is now known and appreciated throughout the world.  The company employs high technology materials that respect the environment, gives prominence to creativity, and puts the emphasis unfailingly on quality.  The philosophy of Rexite is “to create objects that are simple but not banal, original but not bizarre.”

Attila can compactor US Patent

The first page of the United States “Can Compactor” patent, number D387,781:  “The ornamental design for a can compactor, as shown and described.”  The rest of the patent can be found here or by clicking the image above.

The Attila can compactor in action.  An elegant design.  The arms are brought up.  The can is put in place.  The ring slides up to prevent the can from becoming dislodged during crushing. Even with its weight (it’s around 5 pounds) it is difficult to keep in place during the crushing operation.  Denting the sides of the can in a little can promote ease of crushing.  Still, the Attila gets the job done.

The Attila is no doubt an interesting design object that boasts wonderful engineering as well.  It also has the advantage of performing as advertised.  The mechanism can direct 600 newtons (about 150 pounds) of force to crush a can from full height to 22mm.  The argument against the utility of the Attila generally goes, however, that the human foot can direct the same force to the can to crush it, so what’s the point?  Well, Attila is essentially dedicated to reducing waste by promoting the recycling of one of the greatest excesses of modern society, the aluminum can.  Anything that makes the act of recycling more joyful somehow contributes to environmental awareness and conservation.

The original prototype for the crushing gears and mechanism was made of MDF, with the next iteration prototyped from a solid block of Delrin® (DuPont).  Delrin acetal resin bridges the gap between metals and ordinary plastics with a unique combination of properties.  For production, ABS was chosen.

Attila can comapctor

Attila can comapctor

Retail price on the Attila was $110; $99 each for a case of 6 pcs.  The Attila came in six colors:  black, rust (red), cream, multicolored, transparent green, and transparent blue. Image source:  Designmuseum.org.

Attila can compactor, blackAttila can compactor, black imprint

The Attila in black.  Image source:  eBay. 

Attila can compactor, multicoloredAttila can compactor, multicolored

Above:  the multicolored Attila.  Below:  The imprint on the multicolored Attila.  Note that the imprint is common to all Attilas.

More views of the multicolored Attila.

Rust (red) Attila.  Image source.

Thanks to D.R. and D.B. who graciously allowed their multicolored Attila to be modeled for this post.


Frayling, C. (1999). Art and design: 100 years at the royal college of art. (p. 124). the University of Michigan: Richard Dennis Publications.

Lefteri, C. (2008). The plastics handbook. (p. 167). RotoVision SA.

Julian Brown.  Retrieved from http://www.rexite.it/eng/designers/brown.lasso

About us.  Retrieved from http://www.rexitestore.com/en/Pagine/view/slug/about-us

DuPont™ Delrin® acetal resin.  Retrieved from http://www2.dupont.com/Plastics/en_US/Products/Delrin/Delrin.html

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