AIGA Endorses Designers Accord at Watershed Event: Compostmodern '08

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Compostmodern '08, an interdisciplinary, biannual design conference dedicated to design solutions, was presented by AIGA San Francisco and the Center for Sustainable Design on January 19, 2008, at the Academy of Art University in downtown San Francisco.

The two best things you can do are to not go so many places in your car to get 'things' or do not have a car, share one. And 'know' the stories of how your things get to you or share those things too.

What started as a way to continue the sustainability conversation that began at the American Institute for Graphic Arts Design National Conference '03 in Vancouver has now become a world-class event and a reference point for the design profession.

Compostmodern '08, an interdisciplinary, biannual design conference dedicated to design solutions, was presented by AIGA San Francisco and the Center for Sustainable Design on January 19, 2008, at the Academy of Art University in downtown San Francisco.

The speakers, the energy of the participants, the media interest -- all contributed to the success of this daylong conference. Attendees, conference organizers and presenters from 14 states collectively shared a sense of optimism and a renewed urgency to address sustainability as an everyday practice and mode of thinking, rather than as a niche way of working. It was a stimulating conference that achieved, by all accounts, the potential and enthusiasm of its predecessors while reaching new audiences.

Opening remarks from moderator Joel Mackower of GreenBiz set the stage for the day's events. "Sustainability is like teenage sex. Everybody says they're doing it but no one really is. And those who are doing it aren't doing it very well."

The roster of speakers was described by Worldchanging's Alex Steffen as "a bright green all-star lineup." And, it was; the day was filled with real stories of successes and fresh ideas from leaders in sustainability.

Alex Steffen provided compelling new evidence of the urgent need for innovative sustainability solutions. "We need to stop making stuff," he said. "The two best things you can do are to not go so many places in your car to get 'things' or do not have a car, share one. And 'know' the stories of how your things get to you or share those things too."

Adam Werbach, former Sierra Club president, outlined groundbreaking initiatives now underway with client Wal-Mart. "We need leaders," he said, "and designers are in the sweet spot."

Mark Galbraith from Nau Clothing discussed the unique retail model employed by his radical new clothing venture. Jean-Charles Boisset discussed how climate change is affecting every facet of the wine industry and demonstrated the environmental savings from his innovative packaging for the French Rabbit line of wines. Jeff Walker from VSA Partners reviewed GE's Ecomagination initiative. Scott Stowell from Open Studios turned the visually stimulating pages of Good magazine to provide insight into the editorial agenda and design vision. Jane Savage of Nike's Considered Platform talked of Nike's drive to use more sustainable materials and design practices in product development. Jacinta McCann of EDAW San Francisco addressed the impact of population on urban areas by 2008. And AIGA Center for Sustainable Design(CFSD) cochairs Marc Alt and Phil Hamlett fleshed out specific strategic initiatives for sustainability within the AIGA.

The highlight of the day was the announcement that AIGA would partner in the Designers Accord, a call to arms for the creative community to reduce the environmental impact caused by design, created and introduced by Valerie Casey of IDEO.

"This was exactly the conference that the community needed and I expect that it will cause the bloom of a thousand new flowers. I'm looking forward to collaborating with you all in the year to come. The world can't wait," said Adam Werbach a few days after Compostmodern.

Also on hand was a gallery of sustainable project examples, a sustainable cafe, a housewares store, and a bookstore. Many from the crowd of more than 600 stayed after the event for conversation and sustainably packaged French Rabbit wines served in compostable glasses.

Compostmodern '08 was made possible by generous donations from Adobe Systems Inc., Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. and New Leaf Paper.

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Donald Savoie

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