Sustainable design thinking

Strategic planning in design is necessary to ensure sustainability, and careful analysis of how a product will be used can help the designer create a solution that addresses both usability and environmental impact.

As Fuad-Luke states, “Once a new, more environmentally benign design penetrates markets, it’s beneficial effects multiply,” (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p. 15) suggesting that designers can have a direct impact on improving sustainability through careful design consideration. He follows that “Businesses spend less on raw materials and production, and so realise better profits,” (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p. 15) giving a double benefit of more profit, and less environmental impact.

Sonja Meyer’s approach in designing the Annual Report for the Australian Legal Sector Alliance was to create both full and summary versions of the report. The full report was made available digitally, and the summary report, able to be printed on an office printer if required, was designed to use minimal ink or toner if printed. Also, a small quantity of the full version of the report was printed for key stakeholders , by en environmentally-conscious trade printer using 100% recycled paper and vegetable based inks.


Above: Sonya Meyer’s Annual Report for the Australian Legal Sector Alliance.
(Australian Legal Sector Alliance [image] 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016 from:

Fuad-Luke’s Manifesto declares that an eco-pluralistic designer will “Design to minimise the ecological footprint of the product/material/service product;” and “Design to exclude the use of substances toxic or hazardous to humans and other forms of life at all staghes of the product/material/service product’s lifecycle” (Fuad-Luke, 2002, p. 15).

In reducing print in favour of digital delivery, and ensuring that those copies that were printed actively reduced environmental impact, Meyer managed to address both of Fuad-Luke’s points through a well planned and thoughtful design approach.

Meyer’s strategy of digital delivery, print minimisation and eco-sensitive printing, demonstrates the impact of strategic design thinking on usability, cost reduction, and most especially in achieving positive environmental outcomes.

Fuad-Luke, A. (2002). Eco design. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
Australian Legal Sector Alliance. (2016). Sonja Meyer – Sustainable Graphic Design Studio. Retrieved 12 September 2016, from

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