Alumni Update: Heroes + Habits

Green Graphic & Packaging Design

How does one present the concept of sustainable design to a diverse audience ranging from designers to business executives? Brian Dougherty of Celery Design Collaborative knows how: mix eye candy with substance.

(To watch Brian Dougherty’s entire Green Drinks//Living Principles presentation, click here.)

On October 12th, AIGA Minnesota’s sustainable design initiative, reDesign, welcomed Brian to Minneapolis as featured speaker at a special Twin Cities Green Drinks event. For those of you who’ve never heard of Green Drinks, it’s an international, self-organizing network of people who meet each month to learn about and discuss sustainability. In 2009, reDesign began hosting the Twin Cities Green Drinks four months out of the year, providing a forum to not only bring together local graphic designers, but reach out to other design disciplines, marketing and business professionals, and anyone else interested in design that is as good for business as it is for people and the planet. Thanks to a generous grant from Mohawk Fine Papers, reDesign was able to bring in Brian Dougherty to present The Living Principles and talk about how Celery Design Collaborative incorporates these principles into their practice and projects.

A roadmap to sustainability

As Brian spoke of his “heroes” – Celery clients who were brave enough to change their products and practices to be more sustainable – I noticed smiles form on the faces of audience members (including my own clients) who, against odds, are trying to be heroes too. And I sensed designers wondering “how can I help my clients be heroes?” As Brian explains, The Living Principles is a great place to start. By understanding the framework and using the roadmap and tools, designers can consciously change their process until systems-thinking becomes ingrained and “designing backwards” becomes habit. At some point the training wheels come off and designing sustainably becomes as easy and natural as riding a bike.

Many thanks to Brian for making the trip to Minnesota, inspiring us with amazing and beautiful designs, and answering our many questions. It’s been a blast getting to know you!

A huge thanks goes out to Mohawk Fine Papers for providing the funds to make this special event a reality, and to Jonathan Stone, Mohawk’s area rep, for making it fun; The Brave New Workshop for providing the amazing venue as part of its Project 824 initiative; and to Implex (QwikCast) for live webcast and video services.

And finally, a special thanks to AIGA reDesign volunteers and the generous sponsors of services and gifts: East Fourth Street Design, Common Roots Catering, Spunk Design Machine, Prairie Organic Vodka, FourFive Sustainable Design, and Nice Ride Minnesota.

Images are courtesy of

Rita Penrod

Rita Penrod is a designer and sustainability consultant for FourFive Sustainable Design based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Motivated by a desire for positive change, Rita’s work approaches sustainability through holistic systems thinking – with the understanding that everything is designed, from products and services to businesses and lifestyles, empowering all people to create a more sustainable existence. She uses systems thinking methodologies, life cycle assessment, innovation techniques and ethics-based marketing methods to design products, strategies and communications for our clients that positively affect the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. Rita believes Four Five’s thoughtful and creative
approach is critical to a company’s survival in this era of consumer awareness, economic challenges, and tightening environmental regulations. Rita graduated with a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Design in 2009. Rita is based in Minnesota.