Goods’ Sandro Kvernmo on why sharing is the key to a more sustainable future for graphic design
Between March 2021 and April 2022, in collaboration with Two°Creative, we invited designers to redesign the confusing Green Dot symbol to better represent its original meaning. Continuing on from this open brief, The Change We Need is an interview series exploring the design industry’s role in the fight against climate change. For number four in the series, we spoke to Sandro Kvernmo, the Creative Director and Co-founder of ethically-driven packaging design studio Goods.
EM Can you tell us about Goods and your role there?
SK Goods is a design studio focusing on consumer brands and packaging. We are Oslo-based but work globally with brands. I (Sandro Kvernmo) founded Goods with some friends from our sister studio Heydays and work as a Creative Director.
EM As a creative, do you think you have a role in the fight against climate change, and if so, what is that role?
SK Definitely. We started Goods on the belief that we believed our profession needed to take a bigger responsibility for all the material that is left behind after consumption of products. It is estimated that over 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase of a product, yet designers are far too often removed from the consequences of their creative decisions. (Source, EU)
Sustainability is not something that should be proprietary.
EM How do you incorporate environmental considerations into your design process?
SK We basically answer to – and judge our designs on – two parameters: ethics and aesthetics. We have dedicated industrial and material designers working hand-in-hand with visual designers to ensure that we answer both on human and planetary parameters.
EM Can you give us an example from your practice in which climate considerations impacted or changed a project?
SK Our packaging work for reMarkable is a great example of this. We went from packaging with lots of material fractions (metals, fabrics, papers, lamination) to a single material, papers. We halved the size of the packaging, and with that doubled the shipping density of the material, and made the product recyclable worldwide as fibre. All this with a lower financial cost.
EM When did you first start being environmentally conscious in relation to your work?
SK Before we started Goods. Establishing a packaging design studio in 2019 gave us no other choice.
EM What could the design industry do more of or be better at in the fight against climate change?
SK We should share as much as possible of the work, insights and solutions we end up with for our clients. Sustainability is not something that should be proprietary.
EM What is the thinking behind your submission to your brief to redesign The Green Dot symbol?
SK Instead of a mark acting as proof of an (often small) financial contribution, we wanted to turn it into something that would take on a meaning of something more valuable, and promote the use of previously recycled materials. It’s not very hard to create packaging that is recyclable. Using virgin materials is almost a bigger problem in a circular world, we believe.
EM Prior to tackling the brief, how aware were you of the meaning of the symbol?
SK As we have designed the Norwegian recycling system together with our sister studio Heydays, we are quite aware of it. Also because Green Dot is quite visible in our industry in Norway.