Brandi Parker


As the Head of Sustainability at Pearlfisher New York, I pride myself on offering innovation and problem-solving, grounded in practicality, which comes from my many years of experience and expertise in technical realization.

Sustainability is fundamental to how Pearlfisher operates and creates, and is the foundation of the work of all of our teams. I challenge our designers to think about the end game at the start. I challenge our clients not to problem-solve based on ease, but on brand experience and environmental impact.

I firmly believe that the future of sustainable design does not just come down to materials — and managing waste — but implementing realistic and incremental change through a multi-disciplinary approach. By understanding changing culture, continuing to innovate with cutting-edge materials and processes, and joining this with the power of design, we can help change people’s behavior and encourage more sustainable actions and choices. This is where tangible, positive and long-term change will come from.

Outside of the Studio, my passion is music. I play the guitar and I write, perform and produce my own music across a range of outlets.

How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?

Doing work, and hopefully doing good, really has always been about a selfish feeling of contentment. It’s been about how well I sleep at night. My restless brain insists on an unending cycle of: “what is it all for?”

As I began my career, I took a winding road. I’ve historically been drawn to jobs and tasks that have had potential to be bigger than myself. Once I entered the branding industry, specifically working with consumer packaged goods, I learned how packaging gets made in its various forms. I began to understand materials and manufacturing, and most importantly I began to understand how materials aren’t everything, and that human behavior and a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to design are the future of sustainability in consumer packaged goods. This is why I created a new role for myself as Head of Sustainability.

From the time that I helped start an environmental group in the ’90s in high school, to the advertising and myriad other jobs I’ve had since, the one thing I’ve arrived at is this: design has the power to change the world. Yeah, that’s some hyperbole that is said so frequently it’s annoying, but it’s true: design can change behavior, which in many ways is more powerful than a technological breakthrough. Human ingenuity is a major contributor to our evolution to this point. Ironically it’s the same thing that can lead us to destroy ourselves and the planet. That power is what keeps me motivated.

Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?

As I wrote in a recent piece for Print Magazine, the pandemic has done a great job of making us face uncertainty. We’re all still reeling from it, but I think the important takeaway is some of us are ok with uncertainty and some are not. Those of us who are will find the opportunities. Also, the pandemic has heightened awareness of sustainability for everyday folks, to be on par with or more important than health. This is a great thing, because now people know they have the power to demand companies do more and do better. Demand creates supply, and there’s no better way than voting with our wallets.