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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Galbraith’

Post-Compostmodern: Now What?

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We’d be lying to you, dear readers, if we didn’t admit that before this weekend’s Compostmodern conference, we were in a very bad place.

Maybe it’s just the typical occupational hazard that comes with being a blogger. But when you’re bombarded, every day, with designers touting the eco-sensibility of their newest utterly useless product you should buy for only $499.99, architects who want to be praised for using some non-toxic paint on their latest 500,000 square foot monstrosity, and creative people using up valuable resources to launch misdirected movements about using up valuable resources, it’s enough to make us want to reach our hands through internet until we can wrangle the mouse from their smug little hands and whack them over the head with it until they get it.

So when spoken word artist Dawn Maxey stood up and read her little poem on eco-hype yesterday (read the full text), we wanted to run up on stage and kiss her. Oh, how we feel you, sister.

Valerie Casey addressed that eco-fatigue we’ve all been feeling. But she coupled it with a very interesting point about movements in general–they spike, then dip, then slowly gain more solid acceptance over time. So don’t despair, we’re all just feeling that spike. The dip has yet to come.

Except now, this movement belongs clearly to designers. Activism didn’t work, said Adam Werbach. We are in need of better stories, said Alex Steffen. We need to stop making stuff, said everybody. And Casey made a great argument for why designers by nature are perfect to spearhead change. But when Casey showed the slide above, which was sent to her by, in her words, a “very prominent and well-known designer,” it really got us fired up. Because every single company we heard represented at this conference–Mark Galbraith and Nau, Jane Savage and Nike, General Electric and VSA Partners, yes, even Werbach and Wal-Mart–has realized the importance of not just being designer-centric, but being designer-dependent in order to make big changes. People: There. Is. No. One. Else.

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Mark Galbraith Says the Smarter Apparel Company Starts Nau

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Portland-based Nau is an almost one-year-old outdoor apparel company formed by smart people who came from Marmot, Nike and Patagonia, and VP of product design Mark Galbraith is the super design-centric person who sources Nau’s responsible materials and fabrication. Founder Eric Reynolds based the company on a philosophy called UTW (that would be “Unfuck the World”). So why start a company at all? Well, to exert some control or influence on culture, for one. But Nau’s mission was also to take design as a philosophical basis for changing the way business is done (woohoo!).

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The Nau product is just the physical representation of that philosophy; they established an Ideal Garment Criteria. First they really tried to twist the traditional uses for certified, responsible organic cottons and wools (no hemp-y, crunchy fabrics here), as well as polyester made from post-consumer waste. The clothes themselves are designed with recyclability in mind so they can deconstruct your parka easily. Another material, polylactic acid (PLA), is made from corn.

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Marc Alt Introduces the Center for Sustainable Design

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Last year, AIGA officially launched the Center for Sustainable Design, of which Marc Alt is a co-chair (along with the Academy of Art’s Phil Hamlett). Today at Cause/Effect, Alt gave a tour of a new site the group has produced that has lots of original content, and a long list of resources created for designers.

But perhaps most exciting is that Compostmodern, an impressive San Francisco-based AIGA conference, is now the official Center for Sustainable Design conference. Next year’s event will be on January 19, and already some favorites like Alex Steffen, today’s crowdpleaser Scott Stowell, Valerie Casey from IDEO and Mark Galbraith of Nau are on the roster. Register here.