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Green Design

 
Sustainability continues to exert a powerful impact in design decisions. A vast majority of designers say that sustainability is an important factor in their design assignments and solutions. And the meaning of sustainability continues to evolve.

HOLISTIC VIEW
At one time, designers identified “green” with the specific attributes of a product – the best example being the recycled content of a paper grade. But a more holistic concept of sustainability in the graphic arts has clearly taken hold: responsible forest stewardship, clean and green energy, brand mission and reputation, third party certification, the impact of the digital infrastructure – all are seen as measures of sustainable design. And the trend to ever-broadening perspective goes even further, to a concept of sustainability that embraces responsibility writ large – linking environmental responsibility, fiscal responsibility and social responsibility. Says Justin Ahrens: “Part of seeing from a unique perspective includes making a positive impact on our world, both the environment and the people in it. The bottom line is that we want to make a difference in both.” Similarly, Tricia Christiansen says that part of the mission of being sustainable is “to serve our clients and our community, to do our best to be friendly, fair and true to our word, responsible for our actions, respectful to others, and to do our very best at all times, make our community a better place enjoy our work and each other, every day, month and year.”

PERSONAL PASSION
There are many factors driving this evolving notion of sustainability. As the following profiles demonstrate, a major factor are designers’ personal beliefs. As you will see, personal passion plays an important role how these firms succeed as providers of sustainable design; it informs the way they frame the design challenge, structure the design solution, educate and persuade the client, organize their businesses, attract new clients; and integrate their jobs with their lives. Those firms profiled today understand the connections between their creations and the world around them, and incorporate every aspect of green thinking into their business and lifestyle. Says Laurel Black: “It’s not just about paper and ink choices. I have found that it’s about going deeper and learning what truly sustains all aspects of a community by experiencing this process at a personal level.”

MEAN IT
One other theme emerges from the profiles, though it a close relative of the above-referenced notions of holism and of personal passion. That is, in 2013, there is much more brand transparency and more consumer skepticism, giving rise to a whole new challenge. Hence, as KSV’s David Coats says: “The digital age has completely lifted the veil that once existed between brands and their customers, allowing people to choose products and services that truly align with their own values. That means you can't simply slap a green label on your product and call it a day, you have to make sustainability a verifiable part of how you do business. To succeed these days, you have to mean it.”


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