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ART 496F Fred Hart

Critical Issues in Design


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Individual P resentation

Classmates P resentation

Docu mentaries / Fil ms

Design Revolution Reading

Design T hinking b y T im Bro wn Green Gra phic Design Az Stars

Conclu sion

Bibliogra ph y

“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.� - Oliver Wendell Hol mes


Manifesto Visual Communication as Gift and Curse Before you even begin to start reading this, take a second and think about what you’re doing. You are looking specifically at this piece of text. You are using your eyes, your sight, to understand these unique symbols and shapes that make up our alphabet, and somehow you find meaning in the visuals. We are communicating. I am talking to you, through the use of visuals, and you miraculously understand me. This is a testimony to the power of visual communication. Since the dawn of mutli-celled organisms, life has survived with sight as its primary sense. Only in today’s modern age can a blind person truly survive, and only then with the assistance of man made technologies. We depend on sight, plain and simple, and because of this, we have developed as a visual society. From 100,000-year-old African cave art to billboards, books and the Internet, visual communication is the most powerful force in our lives. It is responsible for the progress in quality of life and for much of the destruction of earth. Both a gift and a curse, we must find the most suitable and positive uses for visual communications to make a real difference and cause a shift in sustainability. In our Critical Issues in Design course, we’ve been exposed to a number of problems that have risen from visual communications. Most notably, deforestation, which is a direct resultant of paper used in visual communications. The medium of choice, established early in the life of visual communications, was paper. Both light and portable, paper was the perfect medium for the message. But after immense abuse, greed and ignorance, we find our paper supplies becoming limited. Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty, notes that “There are three distinct ways of thinking about a graphic designer’s role: designer as manipulator of stuff, designer as message maker; and designer as agent of change.” As designers, we should strive to be agents of change, while acknowledging the importance of design and aesthetic. Research in alternative paper sources, recycling and zero waste production are but a few ways in which change is being enacted.

As I myself began to concept ideas for my artist book, I came to the idea that my “book” doesn’t necessarily have to exist on paper. With the advent of the computer and the Internet, visual communication has in some ways become much more sustainable. This book, exists purely online as a digital flipbook, mimicking many of the aspects of a traditional book. No paper, no ink, no binding and no transportation of materials. Thus it is here, with this sort of problem solving that many graphic designers take on, that I begin to explore alternatives, options that defy the status quo. This course, if anything, has taught me that there are always options, and we should examine all pros and cons before coming to a conclusion. This process, similar to those in the development of objects and materials of industrial goods from the movie Objectified, stress the importance of thought and justification. Applied to visual communications and the change could be enormous, and some would argue we’re in the midst of change. Smart phones, Google, Facebook, Email, all are helping to transform the physical shell visual communications used to depend on. In conclusion, regardless of the vessel carrying the message, visual communications it will always be here to stay, but how use and appropriate these vessels will have the largest impact on society. Visual communication will continue to improve all our lives, so long as the people behind the communication look to improve our lives as well.


Individual P resentation Fred Hart | THE FUTURE OF PACKAGE DESIGN “We’re filling the world with stuff, but what value is it adding to our lives? In order for real change to come about, corporations need to change the way they think about unjustifiable, unstoppable production That change, starts with us.” - ERIN HOOD

Students, just like us, are discovering ways in which we can make a change through package design. From clearer communication, to less paper waste, these small changes can add up to make big differences. Here’s how it’s happening:


industrial design student Andrew Kim attends College for Creative Studies in Detroit


graphic design student Corinne Pant attends UQAM in Montreal

“Noté is an extremely simple and ecological solution for packaging headphones. The headphones are wrapped around a single piece of cardboard, requiring neither glue nor plastic.”


graphic design student Stu Taylor attended North Texas

“Tide Essentials is environmentally friendly laundry soap that uses only what is necessary to get your clothes fresh and clean with a minimal ecological impact. The boxes were screen printed by hand on uncoated chip board.�


graphic design student Cory Angen attends Art Institutes International Minnesota.

“Helios features recycled packaging with simple, flat graphics to support their low-cost and low-impact on the environment.�


graphic design student Alice Clair attended the IDEA program at Capilano University

“An environmentally friendly design for potato chip packaging. By having a removable label with colorful patterns underneath, consumers can re-use the container after eating the chips.�

So how can we make a difference? Start somewhere, anywhere, and think about how to make a change for the better. Think about the things you consume on a daily basis. What could be improved?


Classmate P resentations

Joey Ekloff - A Better Stop sign? The stop sign was made in 1914, made yellow and octagonal in 1927, then finalized as the current red in 1954. They enforce the right of way, however to a fault, even when other cars are not present. Round-a-bouts, rotaries, stop lights and even shared space have been proposed as alternatives, however there is no perfect solution. Each has it’s own pro’s and con’s and effect drivers and pedestrians differently. Not to mention, it would cost millions of dollars to implement a new system within the United States. But that’s not to say future options should be ruled out, change is hard no matter what. Kendra Flesner - Bottled Water Bottled water produces million of tons of plastic waste per year, and even worse, all that plastic requires millions of gallons of oil to produce. A large amount of this plastic waste ends up in the ocean as well, polluting the sea and surrounding animals. To combat this, we must recycle, purchase reusable bottles or water filters. Designers are beginning to address these problems with new materials, like compostable and biodegradeable plastics, or even recycled paper water bottles lined with water proof sealant. Ellie Havey - Zero Waste Fashion Design About 15 to 20 percent of the fabric used to produce clothing ends up in landfills, an incredible amount considering the number of products being created. Zero Waste fashion design attempts to do just that, 0 waste, by exploiting the by products for other uses or simply by just becoming more efficient. A new trend in the field is the appropriation of animal, food and industrial by-products as clothing. Certain companies and designer like Parsons New School of Design, Wal-Mart and fashion designer Claudia Escobar. Companies like American Apparel are beginning to use excess material to create accessories and underwear. Even more Avant-garde is the salmon leathers being created from the commercial fisheries in Alaska. World famous designer Isaac Mizrahi has even been commissioned by the Nature Conservancy to work with salmon skin, bringing prominence and notoriety to the notion of Zero Waste Fashion Design.

“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.� - Martin Luther King, Jr


Docu mentaries / Fil ms Objectified From the makers of Helvetica, comes Objectified, a documentary on industrial design and user interface. The film calls attention to differences in cultural behaviors and how products adapt to those differences. A good example of this being the toothpick. Toothpicks in America consistently are made up of a tiny sharpened stick, yet in Japan, tooth picks come with a serrated edge, that pops off the end and transforms into a holder of sorts for the tooth pick. We begin to explore this notion that different cultures appropriate objects differently. Other products draw influence from countries and movements in the past. Many of Apple’s products draw their simplicity and elegance from the modernist and functionalist design coming out of Europe and Germany, with products designed by Dieter Rams for Braun. Objectified also touches on the topic of shelf and product life. In a culture of consumerism, we often have total disregard for our purchases and trash they create. The average shelf life, for instance, of new technology is an astonishing 11 months. Image if this time continues to decrease and products become obsolete even faster. More and more waste will be created as a result. This then sheds light on the juxtaposition between personal belongings that attain meaning over time and mean more in the long run versus trends, which create pleasurable objects which mean the most to us in the short term, but lose value as the next trend comes along. Liken it to having a teddy bear from when you were 4 versus pokemon trading cards. The adventation of the computer for the designer has allowed artists and designers to become more conceptual, as the physical execution of work has increased. Thinking longer, creating faster.

The Corporation The Corporation is a disturbing and dark documentary on the corrupt nature of corporations that shape most of our lives. Their influence on the environment, economy and peoples well being is exposed in the film, and evaluates the nature of corporations from a psychiatric standpoint. The film touched on taxation without representation for future generations with regards to the Earth. Sustainability has long been dismissed by these large, profit-first companies. As well, it seems that most CEO’s of Fortune 500 Companies are almost always white men, and as a result, their decisions hardly take into account the effect they have on minorities and women. Corporations outside first world countries often operate on much harsher and violent terms, attempting to privatize anything and everything for profit. Just look at the attempt to privatize water in Bolivia. The police and government were backing the corporation even though its citizens could hardly pay for food. Many civilians were wrongfully hurt and endangered in their protest to free water. However there is progress being made by some companies and their heads. Interface, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, is trying to become sustainable.


Design Revolution Reading

Great reading about the importance of thought. So often design or business strategies take on a subject or issue based on its face value, leaving hidden problems untouched. Strategic design, as many design and creative firms like IDEO or Pentagram are billing it these days, consists of “deep understanding of consumers’ lives and use the principles of design to innovate and build value.” No longer do designer fix a visual problem. “Great design satisfies both our needs and our desires.” The Kaiser Permanente/IDEO problem solving workshops illustrate the power of thought, problem analysis and prototyping, be it tangible or theoretical. By endorsing a creative environment, and giving people the proper tools to asses problems, the Kaiser/IDEO team quickly created solutions to a long hampering problem, shift changes. After implementing the chosen solution, shift changes took half the time and patient information was seamlessly passed from one nurse to another via computer software. Inspirational/Useful Quotes: “I believe that design thinking has much to offer a business world in which most management ideas and best practices are freely available to be copied and exploited.” “Prototyping doesn’t have to be complex and expensive.” “The goal of prototyping isn’t to finish. It is to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the idea and to identify new directions that further prototypes might take.” “The myth of creative genius is resilient: We believe that great ideas pop fully formed out of brilliant minds, in feats of imagination well beyond the abilities of mere mortals….it was the result of hard work augmented by a creative human-centered discovery process and followed by iterative cycles of prototyping, testing, and refinement.” “Creative thinking “differs from the linear, milestone based processes typical of other kinds of business activities.”

“Design projects must ultimately pass through three spaces (see the exhibit “Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation”). We label these “inspiration,” for the circumstances (be they a problem, an opportunity, or both) that motivate the search for solutions; “ideation,” for the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas that may lead to solutions; and “implementation,” for the charting of a path to market. Projects will loop back through these spaces—particularly the first two—more than once as ideas are refined and new directions taken.” “Many of the world’s most successful brands create breakthrough ideas that are inspired by a deep understanding of consumers’ lives and use the principles of design to innovate and build value.” “I argued earlier that design thinking can lead to innovation that goes beyond aesthetics, but that doesn’t mean that form and aesthetics are unimportant. Magazines like to publish photographs of the newest, coolest products for a reason: They are sexy and appeal to our emotions. Great design satisfies both our needs and our desires.” “Along with business and technology considerations, innovation should factor in human behavior, needs, and preferences. Human-centered design thinking— especially when it includes research based on direct observation—will capture unexpected insights and produce innovation that more precisely reflects what consumers want.” “Design thinking is just such an approach to innovation.”


Design T hinking b y T im Bro wn

Notes Increasing interest in making things with the hands: crafting, hobby “Good design manifests an economy of materials, a clarity of purpose, and a delight in use” Is there a distinction between “good design” and “design for good”? Design for Good: - What if we start designing something with the intention aimed toward some social good? - When you create a design that focuses on a social aspect, the design conversation moves from form, function and beauty to accessibility, affordability, sustainability, and social worth. - Designers are not in the artifact business, but in the consequence business - Some of the best “design solutions” rise from people who aren’t designers at all (volunteers, handypersons, poets) Design is here to solve problems and to celebrate life Paul Hawken says that we are in the midst of a worldwide movement that is made up of individuals and collectives who together are creating meaningful change at every level Emily Pilloton created a nonprofit organization called Project H. Supporting product design initiatives for humanity, habitats, health and happiness. Design with communities and not for clients. Mass production is a dangerous thing, because designers ideas are multiplied by 1000. Ex: Fisher-Price recalled one million toys that were coated in leadbased paint. Of course there’s the flip side to the coin, where it can be argued mass production is a good thing, in the instance of IKEA products or medicines. Regardless, much attention should be paid to the process that goes into the creation of the product.

Corporations have started developing green product lines using more efficient methods and choosing healthier materials. - Ex: John Todd’s Eco-Machines treat wastewater using the natural cleansing properties of wetland ecosystems - Method cleaning products are made from post consumer recycled materials, and were the first to do a 3x concentrated detergent, eliminating wasted water. “Green” and “sustainable” are becoming synonymous and is problematic for designers and the word - Green means environmentally responsible - Sustainable encompasses all aspects of responsibility and foresight: environmental, social, economic, cultural, and humanitarian Corn-based plastic has been hailed as a greener alternative, but requires commercial composting, and they can’t be recycled by any municipal recycling program. They are found to be detrimental to the recyclability of other recyclable materials. Proper disposal needs to be understood by designers and users, cradle to cradle initiatives are become a greater driving force in design practices now.


Green Gra phic Design A required reading for our Critical Issues in Design Class, Green Graphic Design turned out to be an extremely useful book, full of pertinent and current information of the sustainability, or lack there of, that hides behind the final product of our work. The following pages are a series of sections from the book, quoted, that I found useful through my reading.

“Rather than changing to a different field, I simply needed to change the way I thought about graphic communication.” page 4

“The project taught us that green design was equally possible at the largest corporations in the world and at small, local non profits. That’s because design decisions are not made at the scale of the “corporation,” they are made as the scale of the person.” page 6

There are 3 distinct ways of thinking about a graphic designer’s role: designer as manipulator of stuff, designer as message maker; and designer as agent of change. page 8


“In addition to creating physical artifacts (all those booklets, brochures, and banner ads), graphic designers also help clients strategize about how to build strong brands and craft communications that resonate with their target audiences. As such, we are message makers.” page 10

“We use green materials, of course, but the ideas and messages we work with have much more potential to change the course of world development than our materials do.” page 12

“Designers can help companies position themselves as leaders of social and environmental issues, which in turn can influence business operations for years to come.” page 12

“At its core, design is about effecting change. Someone, somewhere is dissatisfied with the way they find things, and they attempt to improve the situation by investing in design.” page 13

“Graphic designers influence the flow of enormous quantities of materials and energy.” page 14


“Most of us are in the field because we enjoy solving visual problems.” page 15

“If we redefine “good design” to encompass green thinking, then its automatically part of our job.” page 15

“Sustainability will define our era.” page 19

“Within the next ten years, almost every graphic designer will be a green designer to some degree.” page 21

“As companies try to connect with particular tribes, they are finding that qualities such as “authenticity” are as important as price and performance. Graphic designers are increasingly being tasked with the challenge of creating this new generation of values-based brands.” page 22

“Businesses are starting to realize that ecological collapse is bad for business... there’s no profit to be made on a dead planet.” page 24

“As Alex Steffen, the founder of WorldChanging, puts it, “We want affluence without guilt,” not sacrifice and restriction. page 24


“The basic assessment is a fairly straight forward calculation. Either we are degrading our natural system or we are not.” page 31

“We are using more resources than our planet can generate.” page 32

“If designers focus only on cost, we may implicitly accept a broken system.” page 35

“We are constantly weighing the cost of an option against its value. And sometimes, added value makes the more expensive options the best choice for a situation. The value outweighs the cost.” page 36

“The average direct mail response rate is around 2.6 percent. Three percent is considered very good response. So marketers look at that mailing of 15,000 and say, “We’re hoping to generate 390 new customers.” What they don’t usually acknowledge is, “We’re expecting to waste 14,610 pieces of mail.” page 38

“In order to fix the system, we need to shift the conversation from material cost to total project value.” page 40

“A whole-system approach to design is the most effective technique for avoiding the roadblocks that stand in the way of eco-innovation. page 46


“In most cases, graphic design projects end here in a landfill...or if we’re lucky, here in a recycling facility.” page 50

“If a design is used twice instead of once, its ecological footprint for the function performed could easily drop by half. If it is used several times, the ecological impact drops to a mere fraction.” page 57

“Designers focus on the user experience and eliminate the unnecessary information in order to build an intuitive, elegant interface (like Apple’s iPod or Google’s online calendar tool).” page 69

“If designers can demonstrate that ecoinnovation is budget neutral or that it improves the client’s bottom line, then many of the roadblocks preventing innovation simply fall away.” page 77

“Sustainable packaging systems tend to fall into two basic categories: the ephemeral and the durable.” page 83

“Smart packaging designers look for ways to minimize dead space within the package, within the case, within the pallet, and even within the shipping container.” page 87


“It turns out that procrastination is the enemy of green design. If schedules are too tight for slow-mode transport, perhaps the project would be a good candidate for electronic delivery.” page 97

“By the time a design gets into manufacturing, it is usually too late to make the production process more efficient. The designer needs to learn about manufacturing processes and plan ahead.” page 104

“Rather than marketing pitches, green designers really need relationships with printers who share their values and are willing to identify and avoid unnecessary manufacturing waste before ink reaches paper.” page 121

“Paper is the central stuff of graphic design. We use it for nearly everything we do, and we use a lot of it...paper can be an ecologically intelligent medium for out message.” page 122

“Seventy-six countries have already lost all of their original forest cover and a further eleven countries have less than five percent left.” page 123


“It turns out that procrastination is the enemy of green design. If schedules are too tight for slow-mode transport, perhaps the project would be a good candidate for electronic delivery.” page 97

“By the time a design gets into manufacturing, it is usually too late to make the production process more efficient. The designer needs to learn about manufacturing processes and plan ahead.” page 104

“Rather than marketing pitches, green designers really need relationships with printers who share their values and are willing to identify and avoid unnecessary manufacturing waste before ink reaches paper.” page 121

“Paper is the central stuff of graphic design. We use it for nearly everything we do, and we use a lot of it...paper can be an ecologically intelligent medium for out message.” page 122

“Seventy-six countries have already lost all of their original forest cover and a further eleven countries have less than five percent left.” page 123


“The paper industry is the fourth largest industrial producer of carbon dioxide, accounting for 9 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions. This is far from sustainable, and graphic designers are in a unique position to effect positive change.” page 124

“The North American paper industry is gradually moving from a model of resource extraction (similar to the mining and oil industries) to a continuously regenerating agricultural model not dependent on disturbing pristine ecosystems.” page 130

“Designers can do three things to minimize the negative water impacts from the paper they use: Use Process Chlorine Free and Totally Chlorine Free fiber, Support closed-loop pulp and paper mills, and use post-consumer recycled fiber (it requires a lot less water).” page 134

“Specifying “green” paper is one of the simplest things a green graphic designer can do. It only requires knowledge and the will to break from the status quo.” page 141


“Being a green designer is about being an agent for positive change.” page 158

“Green branding is a form of design activism. Designers help companies articulate the values that give them purpose, then use those values as a framework for communications...It humanizes large organizations and shines a spotlight on some purpose beyond profit.” page 161

“Green brands tell the world that ethical and environmental values are important metrics of the business’ success. If a company’s actions contradict the values they promote, then the brand suffers. Green branding opens companies up to charges of “green washing” if they over promote and a under perform.” page 165

“Ultimately, “sustainability” is just a beginning. We don’t want to sustain. We want to thrive. It is extremely important that we transform our communications systems to cause far less environmental damage. page 183


Az Stars I first came into contact with the AZ STARS Mentoring Program last spring when they were looking for someone to redesign their logo. That project fell through as communications were inexplicably lost over the summer. However, given the assignment to help a non-profit organization for our Critical Issues in Design class, I attempted to reopen the lines of communication. Successful, this is the process I went through in aiding AZ STARS. PROPOSAL MOTIVATION - I wanted to use my skill set as a graphic designer to provide improved visual communications to a non profit organization that I thought was doing something significant in the Tucson community. AZ STARS Mentoring Project, under the umbrella of Pima Prevention Partnership, makes a collaborative effort to provide best-practices mentoring for children of prisoners in Arizona. They work diligently to meet the diverse needs of these children, and provide them with a positive atmosphere and influences. PROBLEMS - The AZ STARS program has been using outdated materials and information, which result in poorer communication, ultimately effecting their ability to recruit new mentors, especially within the male community. In general, they have significantly low numbers of male volunteers, thus creating a problem for the children in need of a male mentor. PROCESS - The AZ STARS program has just recently adopted a new brand mark, and I plan on asserting this mark onto all collateral materials for consisting. In an attempt to recruit more male mentors, specifically college aged, fraternity males, we will create an information flier targeted towards this group. The materials will be given out via mail, meetings, presentations and booths. RESEARCH METHODS - I’m working closely with both DeeAnn Arroyo, Director of Youth and Family Services, as well as Kathaleen Larsen of Pima Partnership to gain a strong grasp on AZ STARS intentions for the redesign of their collateral materials. They’ve given me past promotional materials to base my work off of, as well as posters, business cards and letterhead.

DESIRED OUTCOME - I hope to create a newsletter, brochure and possibly poster series that increase awareness for the program amongst fraternity males, eventually leading to an increase in volunteers after the redesign. I want the work to be strong, focused and accurate. I want it to make a real difference.

old logo

new logo


AZ STARS PROCESS In the next two pages you’ll begin to see the visual process we went through in creating the AZ STARS fliers. We knew we wanted them to be small and portable, postcard size, two color (using the new established AZ STARS brand colors) and point out the perks of becoming a Big Brother.

*In an order to relate to fraternity members, it was important to use a vocabulary that was familiar to them. Thus the headline, Become a Big Brother Outside of the Fraternity was used, to help build their understand of what a mentor should be, based on their fraternal duties.

*In tending to the interests of the individual getting involved with becoming a Big Brother, we wanted to call different aspects that would interest people, depending on their personal preferences. Thus we broke the information into categories: 10,000, TICKETS, RESUME, LADIES, DIFFERENCE.


AZ STARS FINAL PRODUCT After carefully deliberating the wording, target strategy and overall visuals, we came to this final flier. AZ STARS plans on using it state-wide now, in an effort to increase male mentorship and alleviate the waiting list of young boys in need of Big Brothers.

Overall this project was incredibly satisfying as I was able to help out an organization in the community while gaining a piece of real life experience in art directing, communicating with a client and creating an effective piece.


Conclu sion

Overall, this class was one of the most informative and eye opening classes in regards to the relation between sustainability and design. The impact designer can make is phenomenal, and as I prepare to graduate and enter the design world, it is even more important that I stay current and progressive with my design. The materials covered are broad enough to keep from becoming borrow, yet focused enough to pertain to all areas of design. It was also incredibly satisfying to be able to help an organization in the community. What was most surprising to me was the eagerness for a designer like myself to become engaged in their work. Good designers, it turns out, are hard to come by, and the more we reach out to others, the more fulfilling our work will ultimately be. It’s also a great way to make connections, especially if you’re somewhere new. Lending your talents to a company in need can only help you in the long run. In closing, I’m glad I took this course during my time at the University of Arizona, and recommend it to everyone. Perhaps one day it’ll become a required class for graduation. Until that time, I take my newly acquired understandings out into the world, hopefully effecting others as I climb my way to the top.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” - Keri Ru ssell


Bibliogra ph y Dougherty, Brian. Green Graphic Design. New York, NY: Allworth, 2008. Print. Objectified. Dir. Gary Hustwit. Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. <>. The Corporation. Dir. Mark R Achba and Jennifer Abbott. By Joel Bakan. 2003. Film.


Fred Hart - Critical Issues in Design  

ART 496F University of Arizona