Clive Brace

Remechanism is a combination and simplification of the two words reusing and mechanism or mechanical. The idea behind the tactic of remechanism is to identify mechanisms or mechanical movements in older designs and repurposing them to be used in new designs for different applications. Designers always look back on past designs that were successful in order to influence designs, and one of the most commonly overlooked aspects is simple mechanical movements. To use remechanism as a tactic, a designer must first be presented with a problem, often a physical, mechanical issue, but one that is on a small enough scale that it doesn’t warrant the development of a large scale solution. This is when the designer must turn to simple mechanical movements such as levers, pulleys, gears, springs, screws and bolts (such as those found on, which as the name suggests is a website that lists a huge amount of simple mechanical movements to be used by designers) and combine or modify them to solve their issue. This tactic is usually implemented at the beginning of the design process, during either the conceptualization stage or a prototyping/testing stage for more physical-thinking designers. The early implementation of this tactic is intended to shorten the rest of the design process by eliminating the need for later steps by relying on pre-existing mechanisms.

One example where this approach would’ve been taken is during the invention of the ball joint breaker. The issue would have been the fact that, when connected and greased, ball joints (which are a common component of car suspension) become very difficult to remove when whatever they are attached to requires repairing. Thus designers looked to simple mechanical movements and found that a simple device which hooks onto the joint and uses a threaded bolt to push out the ball from the joint was very simple and effective.

Another example where this tactic may have been used is in the invention of suction mounts for cameras, which nowadays are very popular with all cameras from small GoPros to large DSLRs. The design problem that would have been identified would have been that videographers had no way to attach the camera to a flat, smooth surface without damaging it. Designers then looked to the way in which glass companies move large pieces of glass using large suction cups. Thus, the suction cup mechanism was lifted from the glass handles and applied to the legs of a camera tripod creating a suction mount.


This tactic has great value for designers especially when solving mechanical problems. It provides a quick and easy way to design a product or device to solve mechanical problems without having to spend a great amount of time and/or money on researching and developing an entirely new method of solving their issue. When designers look back upon successful mechanical designs of the past, there often lies a solution to current design issues that doesn’t require excessive amounts of effort or work.

In summary, the tactic of remechanism is intended to allow designers to jump forward in the design process and find an easy solution to mechanical issues by taking inspiration from tried and tested mechanical movements or operations from the past. The tactic eliminated any need for excessive development of a new solution to an issue.