Stella Wilson Versatile

  • Tauira / Student
    Stella Wilson
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Katie Kerr, David Coventon

Climate change is one of the greatest problems the world has ever faced. It is common knowledge that many of the products we buy and use contribute to the degradation of our environment. As a young person, I am passionate about the wellbeing of the earth — but as a graphic design student, I realised my peers and I had very limited knowledge on how our career path contributes to climate change. I wanted to know: how can designers adapt their practices in response to climate change? How can we enable a highly sustainable work environment and produce earth-friendly outputs? These questions led to the creation of the publication ‘Versatile’, a practical guide to sustainable practices for graphic designers.

Designers are frequently producing physical outputs such as paper, ink and packaging, and in the process, the materials and the waste we’re creating have negative consequences on natural resources. Without realising, we’re often contributing to water depletion, water spoilage, soil damage, air contamination and general environmental degradation.

The aim of ‘Versatile’ is to encourage and support designers use alternative methods and materials for positive environmental change. A large section of the publication revolves around materials: what to avoid and why, as well as sustainable alternatives. The book also delves into green washing, circular design and recycling.

It might seem contradictory to create a printed book for this topic. However, I wanted to use ‘Versatile’ as an example of how we can create sustainable outputs. I used compostable ink, mixed FSC Certified paper and a small selection of recycled, handmade paper. Typefaces were chosen to use less ink, and I used environmentally friendly resources when available. The outcome is not 100% sustainable — the process of working towards that ideal is immeasurable — but the understanding I gained serves as a catalyst for producing more sustainable artifacts in the future.

With user-friendly navigation, ‘Versatile’ is a handy book to have at the designer’s desk. With this publication I hope to inspire designers, studios, brands and suppliers to take these small yet important steps towards creating a more sustainable world.