question for my readers: pros in sustainable design


There are more and more sustainable products and options available for how we live our lives, but who are the real masterminds behind all this new stuff? Who are they? What shops do they work for/run? What have they done, what are they working on and what’s their vision?

Do you know of any designers that made themselves a name in sustainable design? If so, please list their/your portfolio as a comment below. Just curious!

23 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Read SuperForest!
    Everything we post is about sustainability in one way or another. Whether it’s products that help us decentralize, or heirloom quality goods, or just humor and inspiration, SuperForest is a sustainability lovers buffet.

    Much love,

    Jackson from SF

  2. 1. Check out these links. Those programs are working together and at the end it’s all about sustainable design:

    2. Personally I am currently working on an advertising/design thesis about sustainable coffee. Once the project done I will be happy to share it with you.

  3. I started a design firm in Chicago in 1999 that has been focused on sustainability and authentic storytelling.

    For us, sustainability is more than recycled paper and vegetable ink. It encompasses social responsibility, ethics and our community.

    We give away an entire year’s worth of work for free to one nonprofit every year. We offer a 10-day design camp for students in the summer to work on a social justice project with a real client, we have several events throughout the year to raise money for local nonprofits and we even created our own nonprofit to help the neighbors in our community.

    Of course we print on the obvious papers, source locally, and choose our clients wisely, but to us there is sooo much more than paper and ink to sustainability.

    I’d love to hear what you think.

    (and good news…we’re looking for an outstanding intern!)

  4. a site we developed for basic green design info…

  5. The bothers behind Freitag…

    And is a good source too…

  6. If talk about sustainable design, it shouldn’t just be a focus on products. Ezio Manzini has created a whole program on service design in the Politecnico di Milano under the belief that innovative services can contribute to sustainable living (also a lot about bottom up social innovation).

    Also he and François Jégou wrote a book about some scenarios they created on sustainable living, and the exhibit that followed at the Triennale in Milano.

    Ezio & François has a lot of great texts and gained a lot of recognition for his work. I worked with them for two years and met a lot of people dedicated to the subjects.

    To visit some of their work:

  7. Our shop pushes clients toward sustainable practices. And we’re completely paperless (not necessarily a big feat today, though most businesses still don’t do it.) We don’t make a big stink about being sustainable as it’s something we think every shop needs to move towards.

  8. Hi,

    We’re your neighbors (at 45 Main). My friend Jonathan comes to your friday morning events and told me all about you. Soon my Friday mornings will free up and I’ll be able to come too.

    We are architects of the sustainable variety. I’m not sure if this is what you were getting at but a huge concern of ours is how to validate claims of sustainability both in the materials used to make products, product miles traveled in the fabrication and delivery process and more importantly, if the new more sustainable version of a product works better than previous versions (see waterless urinals for example).

    I didn’t actually mean to rant here. sorry. hope to make your actual acquaintance soon.

    Ellen Honigstock

  9. I met one of the guys from at a eco-conference. He was talking about triple bottom line and life cycle analysis, with emphasis on materials. Really cool company/focus. May be worth checking out.


  10. We found out about Clean Green Studios and are very excited about what they’re doing in terms of Green Design in Architecture / Social Justice.

    Here’s the link:

  11. I’m very excited to see that there are already studios working toward sustainable design. Responsibledesign101 is a great info source indeed…
    Thanks for this post, I’ll look forward for the answers.

    (I wrote up an article about common sense practices for sustainable designer lifestyle here if that can be any help : )

  12. It could be more easy:
    use a pencil.

  13. Im my country (India) it is difficult to find any one practicing sustainability in the design fields. There are a few firms that do it – ironically at a grass roots level, the villages and large part of the population have been implementing and practicing sustainability techniques for generations: it is all they know – and thanks to that we are not as grave as we could be…
    But it is sad that the educated designers arent making an effort.
    I did some research for a clients magazine that we are doing on sustainability – so i am trying in my own small way to spread these practices among studios and designers alike.

    1) Designers
    They have a nice sustainability portfolio as well as some nice policies on going sustainable.

    2) Sources Old but Gold
    The show, TrashLuxe was a superbly timed show that deal with products and designers who have used common everyday materials using everyday products – and have elevated them to art status – it was hosted by the Liberty Store in London and was part of last years London Design Week.

    3) A Nice site that has some interesting info on how to go sustainable:

    3) Eco labs Designer’s Accord:

  14. The folks at Civil Twilight, who won a Metropolis Next Generation award a few years back, inspire me with their design thinking—they seem to be about sustainability as a way of understanding the world, not an add-on or a retrofit at the end of a product or building’s design. Their first project was Lunar-Resonant Streetlights: they dim and brighten in response to moonlight. They save lots of energy (I think they use LEDs too) and are expressive of our relationship to the natural world, by making us more aware of the beauty and presence of the night sky.

  15. Most of the soustainable design available today is not soustainable at all. If you want to talk about soustainability you have to shift your paradigm.

    The book “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability” is a good starting point. But it describes what soustainability really is, so I’m not sure you will like it.

  16. Firebelly Design is a great sustainabile firm. They have helped me become a more sustainable company in many different ways.

    Check them out:

  17. Hi,

    take a look at

    This site offers a new way to combine technology and nature conservation … currently only in german kanguage though.



  18. Robby Banner above mentions the London-based firm thomas.matthews, and I’d like to reiterate your need to get acquainted with that firm. Sophie Thomas and Kristine Matthews founded thomas.matthews in 1997 on the idea that they would _only_ work with clients who believed in and embraced sustainability as the way to execute their design. Kristine Matthews came and spoke with us at Methodologie earlier this year (she’s good friends with a few people at our office) and we were all thoroughly impressed with a) the depth that thomas.matthews took their “sustainability” message with their clients, and b) that they were on the bleeding edge of the sustainability movement, having started their business based around sustainability nearly 12 years ago.

  19. Fred Gelli is a designer/partner at Tátil Design, a design firm based in Brazil. His work is absolutely amazing and he’s worked his 20-some-years career dedicating himself to presenting environmentally-friendly solutions to his clients.

  20. Ben Terrett is one of the more important thinkers in this space.

    Here is an old post on his blog

  21. John Moes and Holly Robbins have been pioneers in sustainable design since 1999. Their website has TONS of info, case studies and resources:

    Holly is currently an instructor in the Sustainable Design department of Minnesota College of Art & Design. Courses are hard but worth it. They offer a certificate program online.: