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Design to Change Their Minds

Green can be sexy.

design change

As a consumer, I can spot an “organic” or “green” product from a mile away. The packaging is usually plain, some off-beige color – just falling short of being wrapped in a brown paper bag – with a green colored font (or even a leaf, I guess to signify its friendliness to the environment). This is the maker’s way of letting us know the product fits within the parameters of our desire to be considerate of the environment as we purchase our household products. But how did it come about that green had to be so not sexy?

Well, gone are the days where being environmentally conscience means sacrificing beauty and style. Now, products that incorporate eco-friendliness into their lines have also incorporated cool colors, provocative packaging, with dernier cri design. Take Method for example. In a recent interview Grist did with the founders of Method green home-care products, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry discuss the importance design has in creating a perception about being green among the masses.

One of the big goals with Method, and why design and sustainability are inextricably linked in our brand, is that if you don’t have the design element, you’re only going to appeal to people who are already green, so you’re not actually going to create any real environmental change … To us, “sustainability” and “green” are just aspects of the quality of our product — they are not a marketing positioning … I mean everything should be that way. Just build it into the quality of the product and let the experience of the product be the real hero.

The power of beautiful design elements should not be underestimated. The average person is not only drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing – but manipulated by them as well – even if it is a bottle of non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner. Without trying to sound like a well-intentioned but naive social or political reformer, this “power of design” can be used to overcome public perception on many social ills that require a collective buy-in from the masses.

Ryan and Lowry don’t claim to have all the answers to saving the planet. Yet, they do set their focus on progressing the commitment to sustainability as opposed to perfecting it, which they explain in their upcoming book, Squeaky Green. It helps that their “hour-glass” shaped soap dispensers are not only stylish in comparison to other brands on the shelves, they are so well designed. Once empty, you can’t just toss them in the trash can. Thanks to Karim Rashid, the Creme De La Creme of product designers, their packaging marries form, function, beauty, and oh… the element of green.

Philip Joyner

Not only can the man stare down CSS code until it writes itself in sheer terror, but he is famous around 220 E. Hall St for what we like to call his “happy dance”. Few have seen it, and those who have can’t get enough.


2 thoughts on “Design to Change Their Minds

  1. Fitz Haile says:


    I’m often manipulated by my bottle of non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner.

  2. Angel, you’re right that the environmental movement historically poor marketing. I think part of what has caused the recent green hype is a hipness that is trickling through product marketing. I almost passed out a few years back when Kermit sang “Not Easy Being Green” for a Ford ad… during Super Bowl air time! Needless to say we’ve come a long way.

    For the counterpart of this argument – and for particularly progressive, innovative and creative product design – check out “Cradle to Cradle:Remaking the Way We Make Things” by Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart. That will make you think about not only how to entice people to buy green, but how to make almost everything in a greener way. Great read.

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