Sustainable Design and the See America Project

June 02, 2014

Sometimes the stars just align to help and this is what happened when I was able to merge my classroom instruction on sustainable design and the See America Project. During my package design class at the Art Institute of California, Orange County, I have a module on sustainable design. It was meant to be an introduction to the concepts and theories about how we can work in a smarter way to help save our environment and resources.  While I was developing my lessons I learned about whatC.A.N was doing with the See America Project and its support for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

I thought getting the students involved by designing posters for a national park would be a great way to peak their interest in sustainable design. What better way to open their eyes to the beauty of our world and in particular to the beauty of our national parks, and start to understand the importance of preservation and ecological solutions? Our national parks are places of great beauty and history.

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First I introduced the great naturist John Muir who helped pave the way to saving these magnificent landmarks. Muir’s writings help America to gain further understanding of these unique places that needed to be preserved for future generations while advocating good stewardship. Then we explored the WPA posters for the national parks created during the “New Deal”. At the time, these posters showcased the greatness of our country and uplifted the spirit of the people during the Great Depression. At the same time they promoted the ethos of nature’s beauty. This brought us to our modern day versions of the WPA posters, the See America Project.

One visit to a national park can make anyone a believer in designing and living in a more sustainable way. I had each of my students pick a national park that they could relate to; one they have visited or wish to visit in the future. They then researched the park and presented visuals to help promote and showcase its uniqueness and history. They utilized their visual research to create posters to support the See America Project and also to create a sustainable package design for various products that could be sold to visitors at the parks, for example: t-shirts, water bottles, coffee mugs and playing cards. The poster art became the prominent design element for the product. They then packaged each of their products in a sustainable way using the tenets of sustainable design; reduce, reuse and recycle. Exploring materials, processes and production methods that would conform to designing in a sustainable practice was paramount.

This project gave my students an opportunity beyond the classroom walls; it turned out to be a wonderful way to help give back to the community, support the NPCA, the See America Project and allowed them to gain a positive professional experience.

You can see the amazing submissions from Daniel’s students by visiting the links below. 

Mount Rainier National Park by Agustin Contreras

Olympic National Park by Cody Willems

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail by Ian Wells

Channel Islands National Park by Ian Wells

Katmai National Park and Preserve by Leonardo Priego

Joshua Tree National Park by Tarek

 

Daniel Gross

Creative Director, aNEW.designs

danny@anewdesigns.com

website / blog / twitter / about me





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