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AIGA Seattle and Sustainability:
What we’ve been up to

by Corbet Curfman

In October 2008 AIGA Seattle launched its first initiative based on sustainable design. At the national level, AIGA had already formed the Center for Sustainable Design to encourage a series of locally-led events across the nation called Green Salons. The purpose of the Green Salons is to foster conversation, education, and awareness of sustainable methods in the design industry.

Over a six-month period AIGA Seattle hosted three Green Salons, where designers learned about a variety of topics: what “green design” is; how to source sustainable materials and printing; what all those green leafy labels and certifications mean; how plastic affects the earth; and the economic reasons for being a sustainable company.

Our speakers for these events included Amy Tucker of Xeko Games, Eric Benson of renourish, Rob Veliz of SODO Creative, Marcus Eriken of Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and Jesse Alan of Sustainable Business Consulting. We also re-broadcast AIGA’s Compostmodern conference of 2009 and organized a tour of an FSC-certified printer. Through our student organization at University of Washington, AIGA Seattle also had the privilege of presenting a lecture by Valerie Casey of IDEO and the founder of The Designers Accord.

In our next year (2009 – 2010), we introduced two Roundtable events, a forum for designers to discuss sustainability and design in an intimate way. Attendees covered a variety of topics:

  • Applying old ideas in a new world
  • Big picture versus small actions
  • Sustainable design makes business sense
  • Design thinking applied to sustainable design

Designers enjoyed the format and found the chance to be involved in a discussion truly valuable—both practical and insightful.

Most recently, AIGA Seattle hosted Earthwalk, a poster show called “re|THINK,” on display during Ballard’s Saturday Artwalk in June 2010. The posters were created by members of AIGA chapters in North and South Carolina to inspire the people of their states to make sustainable decisions in their everyday lives.

In addition to events this year, AIGA Seattle formed a Sustainability Committee, called “AIGA Traction,” whose focus is to work on initiatives for sustainable design in Seattle. This committee is collaborating with community organizations on topics like transportation and envisioning a sustainable future.

Design is integral to moving our culture toward a sustainable society. If you would like to be involved with AIGA Seattle’s Sustainability initiatives, please email me.


Corbet Curfman is the Sustainability Director of AIGA Seattle.