Design

5 Sustainable Graphic Designers You Should Know

Designer Núria Vila Punzano shares the work of those who have inspired her

You have probably heard about the sustainable design movement happening across fashion or architecture. However, it’s also a rising trend in graphic design, setting out to reduce the environmental impact of printed items (such as posters or packaging) from the get-go.

Many designers take inspiration from nature to create and commit to caring for the planet in all stages of their work. Graphic designer and creative director Núria Vila Punzano (@nuriavilapinzano) is among them. She takes special care to reduce the negative impact her designs could have on the environment and to minimize her carbon footprint.

Núria Vila Punzano

Today, Núria shares five sustainable designers who will help you to better understand this movement and how you can get involved:

Richard Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster Fuller was an American designer, writer, inventor, and architect concerned, way ahead of his time, with the impact human activity was having on the planet. During his lifetime (1895–1983), he was ridiculed for his ideas about sustainability.

Perhaps his best-known creation is the geodesic dome–a dome that has a structure that optimizes the use of energy and materials.

Montreal Biosphere. Former United States pavilion constructed for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. Pho
Montreal Biosphere. Former United States pavilion constructed for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller. Pho
The Dymaxion car, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller in 1933. Photo: Sicnag
The Dymaxion car, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller in 1933. Photo: Sicnag

Victor Papanek

Victor Papanek was an Austrian-American designer and educator who was mainly concerned with the social and ecological responsibility of product design and infrastructure.

He considered design to be a powerful tool for humanity, which allowed people to shape their environments, making them an extension of ourselves and our societies. Some of his ideas have been compiled in the following books:

"Design for the Real World", by Victor Papanek
"Design for the Real World", by Victor Papanek
"How Things Don't Work", by Victor Papanek
"How Things Don't Work", by Victor Papanek

Deborah Sussman

Deborah Sussman was an American designer–a pioneer of the sustainable graphic design movement–whose vision has influenced countless creatives. She asserted that design should be closely connected to the environment, and coined the term "graphitecture": a collaboration between city planners, designers, artists, and architects to create spaces.

She would investigate and document a community’s culture before planning a project. She collaborated with great minds of the 20th century, such as the Eames, Frank Gehry and Foster Partners. One of her landmark projects was designing the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Brochure for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, designed by Deborah Sussman. sussmanprejza.com
Brochure for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, designed by Deborah Sussman. sussmanprejza.com
1984 Olympic Pavilion in Los Angeles, designed by Deborah Sussman
1984 Olympic Pavilion in Los Angeles, designed by Deborah Sussman

Bruce Mau

Bruce Mau is a Canadian designer and innovator who applied an environmentally and ecologically-oriented approach to architecture, art, museums, graphic design, and even philosophy.

He and his wife Bisi Williams co-founded the Massive Change Network agency. His website states: "Whether we realize it or not, we live in a designed world. The question is: will this be a design for destruction or for a sustainable new world that we can safely hand down to our children and our children’s children?" You can watch a number of his inspiring talks online in which he reflects on the role of the designer.

"MC24", Bruce Mau
"MC24", Bruce Mau
Massive Change Network
Massive Change Network

Curro Claret

Curro Claret is an industrial designer who was born in Barcelona. He has wide-ranging experience across different design projects, from designing small objects to installations and interiors.

Passionate about sustainability, he has participated in projects such as Barcelona Design Museum’s permanent exhibition (designing church benches that can be turned into beds for people needing shelter at night) and designing installations made out of unused shoelaces in different Camper stores in Spain.

Curro Claret, shoelace installation
Curro Claret, shoelace installation
Curro Claret, benches
Curro Claret, benches

If you want to learn more from Nuria, sign up to her course, Introduction to Sustainable Graphic Design, and be inspired by nature and work on eco-friendly projects.

English version by @eloiseedgington.

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Upcycling Tutorial: How to start patching your clothes
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