I have been working on this poster for the upcoming College Art Association conference in NYC being held next week. My goal was to show the interrelationships between various parts in sustainable systems thinking in communication design. Below is an excerpt of the poster text:
Communication designers develop printed ephemera and artifacts, impact people, and shape environments. All of these forms result in an unsustainable cycle of production and consumption. This cycle has far-reaching effects that are connected and cumulative. Similarly, economics, sociology, culture, and ecology (commonly called the Quadruple Bottom Line) are all part of a connected system that relies on a delicate balance to thrive. One cannot address a single area in a system without affecting many other areas. Sustainable systems thinking means considering a specific problem not in isolation, but within the context of a larger whole. Designers have a responsibility to provide ideas that do no harm, and better yet, create positive solutions that enhance the Quadruple Bottom Line.
Sustainable systems thinking is a better way to design. It looks at an entire project from a holistic perspective and encourages unconventional problem solving. This technique would help designers, clients, and consumers to consider who or what is connected to the design outcome, where the project will have positive and negative impacts, and make the entire supply chain and impacts visible. Systems thinking in design requires a collaborative method that, like traditional design processes, emphasizes creativity, communication, and innovation. It mandates exploration of new materials and processes to confront issues of economic growth, pollution, and climate change and to better understand the interconnectedness of all parts of a system. It is important in all systems thinking to research and plan ahead. Communication designers often underestimate the power they have to make a positive impact. A choice of paper brand could prevent disastrous carbon emissions, keep jobs in the community, and save a habitat for endangered species.