Monday 23 April, saw the launch of the new book from the Royal College of Art’s Book Test Unit 2018: A Guide to _______ing Sustainability, which sets out to change the conversation around sustainability. The book launch accompanied an exhibition of projects by the BTU students responding to issues around the future of sustainability and the book.
This collaboration with the RCA, is part of our TM20 celebrations, and aims to focus on how design practioners and lecturers can support and equip future designers with the ambition and know-how to apply their skills to tackle the problems the world faces?
The Book Test Unit is an experimental platform comprised of RCA students, alumni and external partners which is concerned with exploring the multiple critical perspectives on the future of the book and publishing. Since January, students from the MRes Communication Design and MA Visual Communication courses at the Royal College of Art have collaborated with Thomas.Matthews and print company Pureprint Group Limited.
The launch and exhibition showcased experiments and conversations explored during the project, and call for action that expands the understanding of sustainability, beyond just the environment, to the sustaining of knowledge through systems of distribution. Experiments included a collaboration with Naresh Ramchandani, Pentagram and the audience at Eye Magazine’s Type Tuesday, featuring Sophie Thomas & friends, that resulted in the creation of a manifesto.
The design of the book has been informed by an ongoing conversation with Pureprint, making incremental savings in material, ink usage and energy consumption throughout the design and production process. This is perhaps best highlighted by the specifically designed typeface, which is a return to the design language of early digital, bitmap faces, repurposed to be printed using as little ink as possible, the wells in the letterforms being indistinguishable at body copy sizes. The decisions taken within the design process are explained in detail within the content of the book itself, including a ‘checklist’, to highlight how small sustainable improvements are achievable within everyday commercial design practice.
A Guide to _______ing Sustainability is intended to be a system of distribution itself – one that is activated through the acts of reading, engaging with, and passing the book. Check out the review in Design Week and eend us a line if you’d like a copy.