AAD529 Week 12 Kirsty Cooper

Sustainability in Design – hype or hope?

It is hard to accept that anything other than moving as quickly as possible towards a sustainable way of working and living is an option for any person today. It follows that any role in a community – including design – should have sustainability at its core. There is, however, the reality that much of the current design work being done, particularly graphic design, is to encourage consumption of one kind or another, so there is an in-built conflict in working for companies that rely on continuous consumption for their existence.

But there are often viable options for approaches to design projects that can minimise an impact on the environment. For example, print projects can utilise unbleached or recycled paper, plant-based inks, and/or constructed in a way that minimise waste in raw materials or extend their use. I believe designers have an important role to play in this regard, encouraging businesses and organisations who use their services to consider what can be done to maximise sustainable practices wherever possible. Digital design can offer alternatives to print but require inputs, such as use of technologies that contribute to energy consumption and electronic waste, that need to be considered. Designers, such as David B Berman in Do Good Design and Peter Claver Fine in Sustainable Graphic Design: Principles and Practices, highlight the (sometimes) hard decisions faced by businesses and give examples of design projects concerned with environmental and social justice concerns. They also offer guidelines for designers to consider when approaching a given project, as well as projects to initiate or look out for in their own design and local communities.

In a heartfelt TEDx presentation, designer JD Hooge says it is time for designers – of digital technology in particular – but appropriate I think for all designers – to take responsibility for the things they create and their impact on human lives. Hooge speaks about the idea of “purpose in design” and of his career path and determination to become a better designer through creation and “having a point of view”, with the realization that graphic design gives people identity, and has the power to create conversations and spread ideas. He also raises concerns about the influence of digital technology and the design elements embedded within it. Identifying this as both a privilege and a burden for web, product, and graphic designers he advises designers to get out of their comfort zone and become more comprehensively educated. Hooge believes seeing different perspectives, including learning from the past, is incredibly important for designers of the future – with existing tools of data, awareness and hindsight – it’s time to leverage those resources and put humanity back at the centre of design.

And while many companies appear to buy into the sustainable message, designers have a role to play in ensuring that these claims are more than hype, and that they support the hope for a more transparent, robust approach to a sustainable existence.


Berman, David B. Do Good: How Designers Can Change the World. Berkley: New Riders, AIGA Design Press. 2009.  https://davidberman.com/wp-content/uploads/DoGoodBermanForCh1Ch12Index.pdf

Claver Fine, Peter. Sustainable Graphic Design: Principles and Practices. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 2016


JD Hooge, TEDx Portland, “The Power of Design”, Sep 13 2019. Accessed 8 Oct 2021

AAD529 Week 10 Kirsty Cooper


This week we took a look at the number of ways of expressing ideas visually. Follow this link to my Pinterest Board that looks at examples of visceral, behavioural, reflective design, the persuasive approaches of logos, pathos and ethos, as well as variety of linguistic terms such as irony, metaphor and antithesis that are used to influence behaviour.

AAD529 Week 8 Kirsty Cooper

Creating Concepts

We took a look at the different ways to develop ideas and approaches to creating concepts. We did a random pairing exercise with two lists of nouns that could help us as we work on our travel poster designs. I chose the random pairing of ‘waterfall’ and ‘canoe’ and drew up a quick illustration to represent this pairing using Adobe illustrator.

AAD529 Week 7 Kirsty Cooper

Photoshop explorations this week. Resizing and looking at image manipulation using ‘adjustments’. Below are my ‘before’ and ‘after’ images of the glasshouse at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre. It’s a wonderful piece of architecture. On resizing from the original taken on my iphone, my image size went from 1066.8 x 1422.4mm (at 72dpi) to 384.05 x 512.06mm (at 200dpi) – big enough to print on an A3 poster with no loss of clarity. Adjustments made were in Curves, then a minor Hue/Saturation adjustment, then I tried Invert – I really like this highly graphic effect.


AAD529 Week 6 Kirsty Cooper Travel Poster Research

Photolithograph for TWA airline by David Klein, 1956. Strongest visual elements are the buildings, traffic and the lights and advertising illuminated billboards of Times Square, cleverly implied through through bright, overlapping, coloured rectangular shapes arranged in single point perspective, as well as lines and star bursts. These are set against a striped, background of black and tones of deep blue. They reinforce the feeling of a big city full of very tall buildings. The deep black-blue becomes lighter towards the centre of the image to reinforce the perception of depth. Secondly, I see the text, bright pink ‘Fly TWA’, then ‘New York’, and finally the plane, above it all. Contrast of colours, rhythm through repetition of coloured elements and symmetry are the design principles engaged here. This poster says everything about both the mode of travel and the exciting destination that awaits a traveller on landing in New York in the mid-1950s.

David Klein, New York Fly TWA, 1956. photolithograph, 1012 x 636mm. MoMA, New York

My second poster is also promoting New York with a contemporary approach. Poster Art NYC Brooklyn Bridge Details | Pink by Melanie Viola, nD. Here, a combination of text, image and colour blocks has been used to great effect. Interesting use of typography and extended lines, as well as placement of text (on white, on colour block and on image. Strongest visual element for me is the ‘NYC’ white on grey. and pink. Then the colour blocks, followed very closely by the split photographic image. Fourthly, I see the text identifier of the image (a detail of the Brooklyn Bridge) then (to my mind) the great incorporation of the geographical co-ordinates. Just what’s needed when you’re promoting a destination! The vertical and horizontal elements, keep pushing my eye around the composition. Design elements to the fore here are unity (of rectangular shapes and minimal colour) and emphasis (of differing text scale and orientation).

Melanie Viola, Poster Art NYC Brooklyn Bridge | Pink, nD. icanvas.com

AAD529 Week 5 Kirsty Cooper

Explorations with colour this week. We learned about the Adobe Color CC website and built some colour swatches using the different relationships between hue, value and saturation on the colour wheel. Almost limitless possibilities and it would be too easy to get stuck trying to make decisions. I found it helpful to set myself some parameters, such as ‘the seasons’ to limit the decisions to be made.

Colour swatches

AAD529 Week 3 Kirsty Cooper

This week we’ve been looking at the principles of composition and layout.

Here is a link to my Pinterest board with examples:

With that in mind, we have been taking another look at the development of our alternative movie posters. I’ve gone with “The Whale Rider” and am considering a couple of alternatives.

The one I have chosen to continue to develop is the lower right, with the profile of the protagonist and the whale as a suggested shape in the background, using the profile of the heroine to suggest the shape of one side of the whale. Composition principles here include, rule of thirds, visual hierarchy and a touch of Gestalt.