sustainable graphic design, Berlin, awareness

Sustainable graphic design — interview with Pia Weissenfeld

Designers shape our world, inspire a new awareness and can be role models. Pia Weissenfeld's book provides practical instructions for consistently making print and web products sustainable. It provides insights into sustainable design processes, promotes ecological production methods and gives tips on how to conserve resources. that book itself is a prime example of sustainability, with environmentally friendly printing and the Blue Angel UZ 195.

Interview with Pia Weissenfeld

How did the book come about and how long did you work on it?

In 2020, I already wrote an e-book about sustainable graphic design called “Changemaker Workbook” and distributed it myself. After that, I was asked again and again whether I could imagine writing down all my knowledge on this topic in a real book. The answer was always “Yes.” On the one hand, I liked the idea, but on the other hand, I knew how difficult it is to get a publisher. Self-publishing was out of the question for me. In 2022, I finally said to myself that I would not write a book without having a publisher on hand. I needed this decision to give these open thoughts a proper place in my head. Without knowing how things will work out a short time later. Because two weeks later I had the request from Rheinwerk Verlag in my mailbox. It became clear relatively quickly that I would like to accept the offer and after everything became official, I worked on the book for almost a year. However, much of the book is also from the previous three years of my self-employment. The collaboration with my clients, the challenges I've faced, the beautiful projects I've completed and the many great people I've met are all represented in one way or another. In addition to imparting a lot of specific knowledge, of course.

What challenges do you see when implementing sustainable design processes?

The price is definitely a challenge. The additional costs of producing primarily sustainable print products are a deterrent or even a major obstacle for many. Pandemics, wars and crises that promote inflation reinforce this problem. But it must also be mentioned that sustainable production doesn't always have to be expensive. The omission of expensive and environmentally harmful production steps can also save money. In addition, I see a challenge in the fact that sustainability is not understood in depth and is then not localized in the entire design process. Anyone who only thinks about sustainability shortly before production has already missed many adjustments and runs the risk of not being able to meet all the requirements of sustainable production as a result of the late discussion. At the same time, there is therefore a great opportunity to incorporate sustainability into the entire design process.

How can female designers contribute to the wider dissemination of sustainable design principles in the industry?

The most important thing is that female designers first become aware of where they can make an impact everywhere in their professional field. It's more than you think. It starts with the type of customer and ranges from cooperation with service providers, through their own positioning to the exchange with other designers. It is crucial that female designers build up know-how and, as mentioned above, that sustainability is integrated and conveyed throughout the design process. The better these processes run and the more everyone involved benefits from these processes, the more popular the topic will be and become more widespread.

What is the meaning of the “Blue Angel UZ 195” as an environmental label for printed products?

The Blue Angel UZ 195 is THE environmental label for printed products. The Blue Angel award for printed products means that these products must meet certain environmentally friendly standards. This includes criteria such as the use of environmentally friendly materials, the reduction of emissions during production and the use phase, and the promotion of recycling and resource-saving production. Printed products with the Blue Angel therefore make a significant contribution to reducing the burden on the environment. Printing companies that can display this label are also often a good point of contact for sustainable print production and advice.

What advice would you give to aspiring designers who are interested in sustainable design and want to tailor their practice accordingly?

I advise designers who are interested in the topic that they should start small. You don't have to make everything perfect from one day to the next. Gradually introducing appropriate measures or changes in processes is much more effective and feasible in the long term than switching everything from now to 100%. In addition, perfection is not possible. There will always be moments when you have to make compromises. It is helpful to be aware of where you are or may or may not be willing to compromise. At the same time, I also advise you to be aware of who you are working for, whether employed or as a freelancer. Who you sell your energy and creativity to has a huge impact. If the employer or client has such a bad impact on the environment, you should look for alternatives as quickly as possible. In my opinion, designers' creativity is much better off where it can do good things rather than do bad things.

Upcoming event highlights:

Ignite Talks — Inspiration and New Ideas for Tomorrow's Evolution
Ignite #4 with Johanna Schuck on Nonviolent Communication on 15.02.2024

Information & registration

Nonviolent communication is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg that emphasizes empathetic connection and compassionate expression to resolve conflicts. It focuses on identifying and addressing underlying needs rather than assigning blame, thus promoting understanding and cooperation in interpersonal relationships.

Johanna gives us an insight into the world of GfK and carries out interactive exercises with us.

Design conference:
FURE — The Future of Reading on March 8, 2024 in Münster

Information & registration

This year, the focus will include the following questions: What will reading look like in virtual reality? Will we leaf through detailed replicas of printed works from the real world or use pure voice control to orient ourselves? What are the different types of reading? It is also about promoting reading and strategies to increase the visibility of books on the Internet and on social media.

The following speakers represent the range of topics that concern us all this year: Karin Schmidt-Friderichs from Hermann Schmidt Verlag, Mike John Otto from Artificial Rome, Jutta Echterhoff from books for future, Thomas Poschauko, Prof. Dr. Angelika Nollert, she heads “Die Neue Sammlung — The Design Museum” in the Pinakothek der Moderne, the Amatik Design Agency, Jakob Runge by Typemates, and Olaf Wittrock from Wortwert.


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