Richard Roche + Jonny Black

R_ROCHE_J_BLACK

CAST IRON DESIGN, BOULDER CO

Cast Iron Design is a multi-disciplinary graphic design studio in Boulder CO primarily focusing on branding. The studio is operated by co-owners Richard Roche and Jonny Black. They have been successful at pairing good design with positive impact by creating memorable brands, implementing environmentally responsible practices, and helping the design community do the same.

HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
We merged our passion for the environment and our passion for graphic design by starting the agency in 2010. The idea was sparked by a course at the University of Arizona, titled Critical Issues in Design, taken by Jonny during his graduate education. The surprising rarity of sustainability-focused graphic design studios inspired us to not just practice as a sustainable studio, but to focus efforts into educating other designers with initiatives such as giving lectures around the country and informing with products such as our Eco Pocket-Sized Notebook.

ARE THERE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES IN PURSUING THESE GOALS IN 2017?
A big part of sustainable graphic design is efficiency, which ends up saving our clients money (an outcome that they’re usually very happy about). Another part of it is using greener materials, such as 100% PCW paper, which are often more expensive than their conventional counterparts. As one would expect, we do occasionally get some opposition on this front, but usually our client is on the same side as us and simply wants to use a more cost effective, but still greener, alternative. It’s all about achieving a balance. To stay productive and efficient, we try to align ourselves with likeminded clients who want to make their business more sustainable, whether it’s because they want to build their brand value (since being an eco company often leads to increased trust and loyalty among consumers), or because they just think it’s the right thing to do.

The other challenge is the time necessary to research various materials and processes, a process we often liken to investigative journalism. We read MSDS sheets, have conference calls with technicians and chemists, and ask vendors extremely specific questions they’re often annoyed by. The benefit of the research investment is that it’s a service we offer that few other agencies offer. This adds to our value, and clients often come to us specifically because they’re looking to partner with green businesses or someone in the same “business as a force for good” movement they align with.

PICTURED: Richard Roche (L), and Jonny Black (R). The Cast Iron Design office is in the chapel of a former hospital and Al Gore’s portrait hangs cheekily above the pulpit.

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