Sustainable Graphic Design Book Reviews

Sustainable Graphic Design

By Peter Claver Fine
256 pages, softcover, $39.95
Published by Bloomsbury Academic (Bloomsbury Publishing)
bloomsbury.com

Peter Claver Fine has set out to reorient the learning, researching and teaching of graphic design closer to sustainability—an enormous task, but one that is well begun in this innovative textbook. Building on the historically important writings of Victor Papanek, Fine moves beyond Papanek’s Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change to discuss design in the disposable world, a world under increased threat of ecological damage and catastrophe. He presents a complex problem and offers methods to solve it through examination and education. The book is divided into chapters that address messages, process, packages, space, social design and the teaching of graphic design at a human scale. Detailed case studies introduce contemporary design initiatives, providing a methodology to absorb basic tenets from design history and avoid past mistakes. “Planned obsolescence” of products, what constitutes “new” and what is truly necessary—as opposed to merely desirable—are all design problems and ethical conundrums that require careful examination in a new century. 

The relationship between consumption in North America and its effects on much of the world demands that designers examine not just the design, but also the branding, manufacture and packaging of products; they must accept responsibility for adopting sustainable principles and practices in their work. Given the enormity of the subject matter, you know going in that this is not light reading, but any designer wishing to have a positive impact in her or his field will find this book challenging, insightful and inspiring. —Anne Telford

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