IN THIS ISSUE
Last October, we published a “Going Green” edition of GDUSA magazine. Initially, I was skeptical about producing such an issue because the topic has become the last refuge of publishing scoundrels. A tiresome, obligatory collection of tips and tricks and lists and sanctimony. More “green noise” for the landfills of the mind. I was overruled and, as it turned out, the project worked well because our team came up with an approach that added value to the discussion. Simply put, we invited some great design firms to share their personal and professional experiences of “going green” — and then we stepped out of the way and let them speak. So here we are again. It’s almost October and we are preparing another green-themed magazine. And again, we have invited a new group of engaged designers to share their insight. And again, it works. Here are a small selection of responses to the many questions and design firms covered in the magazine, which will hit the streets on October 15.
— Gordon Kaye
Roughstock Studios, San Francisco CA: If we treat environmental issues as separate from the design itself, then it can be more expensive to essentially “tack on” green decisions after the fact. And while that might be perfectly acceptable to some clients, it no longer works when cash flow is an issue. However, if you begin a project with the understanding that environmental responsibility is a design component as important as, say, usability, then it’s really not difficult or costly to integrate greener decisionmaking into the process. A simple design decision at the front-end of a project can reduce both cost and environmental impact simultaneously.
Firebelly Design, Chicago IL: There’s a big difference between being profitable and looking for profit maximization. We're honest about who Firebelly is, why our methods work and what we’re capable of. Clients appreciate our optimism, outlook and the fact that we operate a lean studio. Thanks to our size, experience and dexterity, we are very comfortable taking risks. This frees us up from a lot of the restraints large, more traditional agencies suffer from during an economic downturn. On the flip side, the recession is forcing companies to look critically at ways to differentiate themselves and find new, smarter ways to do business — sustainability can resolve both those concerns. So for us, the recession makes “being green” easier, more exciting and better for business. But it requires serious self-reflection, and making changes that are often disruptive to traditional business practices and discordant with the status quo.
Willoughby Design, Kansas City MO: Actually, the recession has not made it more difficult. Clients are learning that making sustainable choices in designing products and communications can positively affect the bottom line. We have assisted clients in reducing waste of unnecessary communications and packaging through critical thinking about design. Green is no longer just printing on more expensive recycled paper. It is considering where the material originated, how it is manufactured, how it is transported, consumed and disposed. Within each of these touch points is an opportunity to design with less impact on the environment while maintaining well designed and enjoyable goods
Zunda Group LLC, South Norwalk CT: We do not believe being in a recession has anything to do with being green. This is first and foremost a cultural issue with lifestyle impact/ramifications, that affects each and every one of us on a daily basis. James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis says that the Earth exists as a cohesive, living organism. The theory explains that we are all inter-connected — that individual actions have a direct correlation to the whole. That very idea is beginning to permeate consumer culture, resulting in growing numbers of eco-conscious people who are trying to consume less to preserve the living Earth. They believe they can become individual stewards of the environment and make meaningful contributions by taking small steps on the collective eco-march forward.
Celery Design Collective, Berkeley CA: We saw huge opportunities for innovation and invention. We wanted to develop a new way of thinking about and doing graphic design. We started in 1997 right at the beginning of the dotcom bubble. Only a handful of designers were talking about green design and sustainability, and most of them were in the architecture and industrial design fields. We looked to these groups and others such as Alice Waters and her pioneering efforts in the organic food movement for inspiration and guidance. We knew that we wanted to work with like-minded people and began to pitch our ideas and work to key figures in the sustainability movement. Paul Hawken took us under his wing early on, which helped us meet amazing innovators and learn the power of systems thinking.
MSLK, Long Island City NY: Our environmental commitment began because we wanted to work on projects that made a difference. As designers we feel compelled to use our talents to raise awareness on the environmental issues facing society.
Resonance Marketing, Decatur GA: We didn’t suddenly become interested. That is, the light wasn’t switched from off to on. It was already on, though it gained intensity over time. We now view sustainability as a core component of our work, alongside content tone, color theory or other core components. We don’t view eco-friendly communication as a value-add, but a fundamental, something to be considered from the start of the project. It’s also an opportunity to help a client be a leader rather than a follower in the emerging paradigm.
13thirtyone, Hudson WI: I’ve always been eco-conscious. I brought this into my business because, right now, savvy customers are paying premium prices for products and services from earth-friendly companies. When you choose green practices, you automatically enhance your brand image and create a marketing advantage. In addition, recent studies have shown that early adopters of eco-friendly processes edge out their competition. You establish a standard of social-responsibility that indefinitely distinguishes your company from the crowd. Being green helps your business. I can do this for my company and I can do this for my clients, too.
Third Planet Communications, Pittsburgh PA: Being ‘green’ was always a foundation of who we wanted to be as a firm and is an intrinsic part of who we are as a partner for clients and potential customers. In a climate where more businesses are becoming more aware, receptive, and even more expected to embrace eco-friendly opportunities, it has been beneficial. We also understand that our mission goes significantly beyond. If we can continue to be a sound design resource to our clients, one that also advises them on environmentally-friendly options so they are comfortable acting on those recommendations, we will consider our work a major success. If designers are “green” focused and are willing to lead the way with clients, printers and fabricators, we will soon realize a greater reward — one with a more long-lasting effect than the next assignment.
Grossman Marketing Group, Somerville MA: Definitely. It has been a huge differentiator for our business, especially since we were first-to-market in our region with a number of green innovations. Sustainability has become a key issue to organizations of all sizes, and they want to work with a design and production partner that is well versed in these practices.
Susan Newman Design Inc., Jersey City NJ: There are so many green companies and causes, we are constantly using social networking sites to get out our message, including PRLog, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Our cause page on Facebook grows everyday.
GDUSA readers are entitled to free admission to
Picturehouse in New York CIty, an intimate trade show for stock visual
users and providers. Meet with image suppliers, network and enjoy free food and
NOW ON GDUSA.COM
GREEN PEOPLE PORTRAITS