A Final Example: Ecovention Europe

27th August 2021 at 11:49pm
Word Count: 382

Fast forward from Green Acres. Sue Spaid, now living in Belgium, has a new exhibition: Ecovention Europe, ecologically inventive artists working in Europe, and there is another book.

In the interim since Green Acres, I heard designer Sara de Bondt discuss the Radical Nature catalog designed for the Barbican in London. De Bondt's studio wrote a sustainable printing manifesto as part of the research for the catalog's production.

De Bondt's "manifesto" reminded me about constraints for framing design decisions: How might I re-examine the design choices of _Green Acres_ through new constraints? Could I improve the sustainability (and the sustainable aesthetics) for _Ecovention Europe_?

One of the items in De Bondt's printing manifesto is "use less ink." This meant selecting colors more carefully. The palette of _Ecovention Europe_ uses no color that adds up to more that 100% ink coverage. (_Ecovention Europe_ uses CMYK: and color palette swatches start at 100% pure C, M, Y, or K, and then are mixed in equal percentages to keep 100% or less total coverage: 50% + 50%; 33% + 33% + 33%; etc.). This resulted in a color palette that was fairly special for this book. Reducing ink also led to a graphic solution, bitmapped city aerial photos as the decorative section markers. The appearance of a filled area is kept, but less ink is used comparatively.

Text columns in _Green Acres_ ended at full paragraphs breaks to make editing easier. This gave a formally-nice rhythm to text columns, but it was an inefficient use of space. With _Ecovention Europe_, I reduced this space by running all the text the full column heights. This had the secondary benefit of minimizing superfluous decoration: In _Green Acres_, superficial decorative elements filled those blanks left by text columns ending mid-page.

I even tried to reduce decision making through reuse. The grid for _Green Acres_ had a lot of conceptual reasoning invested into it, and so I reused the page templates, type choices, grid setup, etc.

As a conceptual exercise, this was great. But, did it make much of a difference? How could this be done differently and improved upon again next time? Is there an alternative to making this book at all? (Should this exist? I didn’t ask that question before we began!)


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