Good Donkey! or Can Green Design Be Good Design?

February 10, 2009

Logo for The Climate Group, design by Browns

Language developed through repetition. We understand what the word dog means because we were told, “this is a dog” and everywhere we went people agreed. We learned to associate the shape of a dog, with the word dog. The world of graphic design, a world that exists solely for the purpose of communication, is guided in part by the same concept. It is through repetition of certain visual communicators that designers create for our clients an easily understood language.

Over time, however, this language we create becomes so ubiquitous it loses its power. When was the last time you ever actually considered the meaning of the word dog? You’ve said the word so many times that, unless you’re really into dogs, it no longer grabs your attention. Now, if someone pointed at a dog and said to you, “Look at that donkey over there” they’d get your attention. They’d also be crazy but the point is if you want your dog to get attention, call him a donkey. Of course, you’d have to justify it but you get where I’m going.

Eddie Murphy and his sustainable Donkey

One sector that has reached the dog point, as far as visual language goes, is what we call Green, that being anything to do with taking care of our planet. On Design Assembly, designer Tom Crabtree takes a look at the donkeys of ‘green’ design. Some really great examples in there.

I must say, though, it takes a certain combination of designer and client to pull off some of the examples he cites. While it is our job to push things further, at the end of the day, the client wants what they can understand. So if you can’t convince the client that your donkey is a dog, you’re pretty much stuck in the pound.

Link: Not Easy Being Green