Mouse ready projects for a design infrastructure

Shovels are great, and there is a lot of money being thrown around lately to support useful, but traditional, infrastructure projects. What about helping to nurture and support a sustainable design infrastructure.

Aren’t there projects that we as a design community could lobby the Federal Government to support that would help the struggling design economy, create a national design infrastructure, and support the increased emphasis on sustainability? The answer obviously is yes.

One place to start could be to help the AIGA with their initiative to rebuild the horrendous condition of our voting system infrastructure. They have a great program called Design for Democracy, that among other things has made specific suggestions on ballot design and helps implement the election reforms mandated by the Help America Vote Act. Wouldn’t it be great to have federal support of this through AIGA’s Election Design Fellows program. Jenny Greeve was recently hired by the state of Washington as an Election Design Fellow. Shouldn’t every state have at least one individual overseeing the design process for what is arguably our most important responsibility as a citizen.

spc-winners2A second project could be federal support for the work of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. This is an industry group that is working hard to develop an infrastructure in the package community that supports sustainable design. Shown above are some of the winners featured in their sustainable package design library

Their stated mission, “is to advocate and communicate a positive, robust environmental vision for packaging and to support innovative, functional packaging materials and systems that promote economic and environmental health through supply chain collaboration.” Sounds like a national packaging infrastructure project to me!

How about putting money behind their Sustainable Metrics Project  or support the industry wide implementation of their Compass project, an online software application that allows packaging professionals to compare the environmental impacts of their package designs using a life cycle approach. The SPC has recently released the public version of this tool. 

We have CAFE standards that regulate auto emissions, how about implementing a similar industry-wide standard for consumer product package design?

Or lastly, how about support for the U.S. National Design Policy Initiative, which has a series of proposals including the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of Design and Innovation within the Department of Commerce, or the establishment of national grants for basic design research. 

All of these initiatives could benefit the design infrastructure of our country, improve our economy’s competitiveness, and put design to work creating sustainable solutions for our clients.


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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