1st Edition

Design to Renourish Sustainable Graphic Design in Practice

By Eric Benson, Yvette Perullo Copyright 2017
    160 Pages 78 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Inspiration is everywhere when you stop to not just smell but watch the roses. Mother Nature’s interwoven relationships between all life can serve as a powerful model for graphic designers to create sustainable print and digital work. Design to Renourish is a book for the graphic design professional that helps to integrate sustainability into their workflow through a design process called systems thinking. This process asks the graphic designer to approach a design problem by being more informed and aware of and influenced by the impacts that material and vendor choices have on one another, the planet, and consequently on us.

    The book not only walks the reader through how to design with Mother Nature as a model, but also offers solutions to the real life challenges of working with the client to create sustainable work. Through ten case studies that feature interviews with international design teams who embrace a sustainable systems methodology, the reader will gain valuable insights on how to design to renourish and improve life on Earth.

    Chapter 1 Beyond the Bottom Line

    Chapter 2 The Hawk, the Squirrel, and the Oak Tree

    Chapter 3 Promoting the Transparency Equation 5

    Chapter 4 Case Studies

    Chapter 5 Today

    Chapter 6 Tomorrow


    Eric Benson was born in Arizona and raised in Mid-Michigan where he later received his BFA in graphic and industrial design from the University of Michigan in 1998. His MFA thesis at the University of Texas became the award-winning sustainable design website www.re-nourish.org. His work with Re-nourish translated into an academic career teaching graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois he runs Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab, where he explores sustainable papermaking using corn stover, soy stalks, prairie grasses, and other waste fibers from local farms.

    Eric’s creative work has also garnered numerous design awards and hung in notable venues like The Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and RISD.

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    Yvette Perullo is a Boston-based designer and educator that believes good design values people, the environment, and improves lives. She received her MFA in visual communications design from Purdue University and her MA degree in graphic design from the New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University where her research focused on developing tools and resources to encourage sustainable design practices—the foundation of her work with Re-nourish.


    She has lectured internationally on sustainable graphic design and as a design educator, Yvette focuses on integrating sustainability methodology into her courses. Yvette is the Lead Designer at Bartlett Interactive in Concord, Massachusetts, an agency with a commitment to sustainability and triple bottom line business practices. 

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    Re-nourish is an award-winning and internationally recognized nonprofit organization that provides lectures, workshops, podcasts, and online tutorials to help designers create sustainably. The website provides resources and tools like a searchable greener paper database, a print project calculator, and a green certification system for studios/creative teams and projects.

    Design to Renourish shows how the role of graphic designers, or all designers, have matured during the last few years. We are now much more responsible in the ways we work, what we produce, and how we contribute to the world. Eric and Yvette illustrate this with examples and stories that shows us that graphic design is more than just pushing pixels, learning the latest applications, or designing cool posters. Our profession impacts our world in every aspect; by the resources we use to produce physical deliverables to the cultural implications of the messages we convey.

    Eric and Yvette leave the reader with a summary of graphic design today, capturing key insights from what they learned while putting this book together. They challenge professionals and the industry itself by prompting them to consider, or reconsider, the ways designers have been working over the last few decades—suggesting better, more resourceful ways our field can (and should) move forward as we face environmental and societal challenges.

    I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to learn more practical lessons, approaches, and frameworks. This should be on the book shelf of every student and professional looking to raise their level of design responsibility.

    -Marc O’Brien, Design Strategist, Creative Facilitator, Design Educator. Co-Founder of The Determined. A design-led collective taking a punk rock approach to social innovation.



    In Design to Renourish authors Eric Benson and Yvette Perullo ask the question, "What are the unintended consequences of design work over time?" The answer: countless trees cut down, millions of gallons of water wasted, rising levels of CO2 and more. However, by employing sustainable practices and systems thinking, the authors illustrate through a series of compelling case studies how much positive impact designers can actually make. Design to Renourish not only provides practical knowledge, but an incredible list of resources that are essential for any designer ready to commit to being impact-focused.

    - Shana Dressler, Executive Director of Google’s 30 Weeks