Christina Baute


I’ve been lucky enough to have a fulfilling career spanning over two decades, kicking off in a small boutique design studio/agency where I specialized in graphic design, art direction, and branding. My work included a wide range of projects, from printed materials and branding systems to product packaging, advertising, and even interior design. I had the privilege of working with notable clients like Mattel, American Red Cross, Cadbury Schweppes/Snapple, Kiss My Face, Panama Jack, Colgate Palmolive, Old Navy, Toyota, Jeep, and American Express.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in the marketing and communications department, currently serving as the Director of Content Creative. EDF’s mission is to build a vital Earth, for everyone. We use science and economics to address the urgent challenge of climate change. Our work spans over 30 countries in areas where we can make the biggest impact, with a focus on stabilizing the climate, strengthening the ability of people and nature to thrive, and supporting people’s health. At EDF, our core values (Results, Respect, Innovation, Optimism, and Integrity) empower us to take bold steps in our work and maintain our longstanding commitment for over 50 years.

Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.

As mentioned, I began my career in the for-profit agency world, where environmental concerns weren’t my primary focus. However, my journey took a definitive turn when I joined EDF. Here, I discovered the profound role of design in addressing socially responsible issues. It was an eye-opener; I realized that design could be more than aesthetics. Good design has the remarkable ability to distill complex ideas into accessible and compelling messages. It acts as a bridge, connecting complex ideas with broad diverse audiences and fostering empathy, which, in turn, can motivate action.

In my role at EDF, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the true capacity of design to convey the urgency of climate change. Through in-house materials like EDF’s quarterly magazine ‘Solutions,’ we establish a meaningful connection with our members, sharing inspiring stories about the impact of our mission. One of our standout projects was an out-of-home campaign in New York City during Climate Week. We strategically placed visuals at bus stops, charging kiosks, taxi tops, and even Grand Central Terminal displays, turning these urban spaces into powerful platforms for climate awareness.

In today’s world, designers hold a unique responsibility. Our craft enables us to ignite positive change, influence behaviors, and contribute to a more socially responsible and sustainable future. It’s a journey that has reshaped my professional path and continues to inspire my work every day.

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

In today’s world, creative professionals face a multitude of challenges. They must adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of remote collaboration and navigate the constant stream and abundance of content in this digital/information age. And for some, maybe even grapple with the impact of distressing global issues like extreme weather events, such as the recent wildfires in Hawaii and super floods in NYC, or even worse, geopolitical instability. It’s not just about creating effective designs that break through the noise; they must also contend with mental health and burnout concerns themselves, all while endeavoring to tap into their creative wells to potentially change hearts and minds for the better with their work. (Creative folks are doing some mental gymnastics out there!)

In this demanding environment, creatives can inspire us all by reminding us that even in the world of design, resilience is an invaluable asset. If we can support one another whenever possible, we can harness the power of community, in the creative world or beyond. Together, we can foster an environment where innovation, empathy, and positive change can flourish.