Viola Design


An industry leader since 1999, and a pioneer in Australia’s eco-graphic design business, for Victoria’s Viola Design sustainable design is at the heartbeat of their Melbourne Studio. Founder Anna Carlile is hugely passionate about educating fellow designers and commercial users about the need and tools required for environmentally sustainable design and is the brains behind Design By Nature –, an online resource that is based on extensive research, guiding designers through the key areas of consideration, providing practical tips and ideas for everyday use to better sustainable design practices. With projects that draw on a range of sustainable methods like green-sensitive stock and printing solutions, creative print-based design outcomes, designing for sustainability,  Viola demonstrates that visually sophisticated graphic design doesn’t have to “cost the earth”.

Since founding Viola in 1999, Carlile and her fellow associates have developed a diverse eco-design portfolio with clients such as The Earthwatch Institute, Green Peace and the Environmental Protection Authority.

Every year Melbourne University produces more than $9 million of printed material. Like many environmentally conscious organisations, the university wanted to explore new ways of meeting their communication needs while also being sensitive to the environment. In 2008 Viola was approached to develop an internal environmental management manual, with the goal of helping the university adopt new practices that would reduce the environmental impact of its publications.

The result was a comprehensive guide that showcased the potential of eco-design as an environmental discipline. At first the standard twenty-four page printed brochure was considered but then quickly dismissed due to the waste that would be generated and also because, once printed, the information could become outdated. Due to the changing nature of the content, a website was approved as the most appropriate communications medium. To promote the use of the website by the university’s publication departments, Viola created an innovative, freestanding desktop piece, which required no binding and was both eye-catching and retainable. The printing was sponsored by a initiative and was QIS014001 compliant. The production used low-toxic inks and Envirocare paper that was composed of 65% post-consumer and 35% pre-consumer recycled material. The end product was also produced by a mill, with EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) accreditation.


Green Graphic Design

Sustainability enables the continuity of life on Earth as we know it for future generations to enjoy.

“Tomorrow’s business must innovate or deteriorate. They must design or die! .”
(Janice Kirkpatrick, designer, at the launch of Design in Business Week, 1998)

Green Graphic Design, Sustainable Graphic Design or Eco Graphic Design is a form of design practice that follows a specific philosophy. As Governments and organisations are recognising the financial, social and environmental costs of not acting, Green Graphic Design is becoming more commercially accepted and sourced.

Green Graphic Design is as easy as allowing your designer to think outside the box and suggest more environmental solutions where possible.

Sonja Meyeram is an Australian graphic designer. Her work includes the development of visual identities, as well as creative graphic design for print, web and other digital products.

Sonja is an advocate for Green Graphic Design and lists her design considerations below;

Design Considerations:

Work with your designer during briefing stages to identify the most important to the least important items of the project so these can be accommodated with eco preferences where possible.
Consider the message of the project, is this project socially responsible? What is the best way to market your product or service with honesty and integrity?
Intend to have the piece designed for extended use or reuse wherever possible. For example, a promotional flyer designed in December could include a yearly fridge calendar on the back to be used all year-round. Be creative in your approach.
When designing for print, avoid page bleeds where possible. Printing with bleed creates offcuts that need to go through a de-inking process during recycling.
Avoid creating design that uses a lot of ink coverage and design in black and white when possible.
Consider using ‘low-ink’ fonts for large areas of body text. Here are some examples.

Print Considerations:

Consider the size of the project. Is it possible to reduce the amount of paper required to achieve the desired outcome, such as developing an A5 brochure instead of A4. Does the project have to be printed at all or are there other digital solutions?
Use only environmental printers for the printing of your design. Accredited printers have met targets for the reduction of their emissions.
Choose only FSC certified 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and use vegetable based, low-VOC inks.
Avoid adding metallic inks and coatings such as varnishes and laminates to printed items as these are difficult to de-ink and recycle, and many of these special finishes are made up of toxins that are harmful to the environment.

Website Considerations:

Use a local green web host for your website such as Digital Pacific. A green web hosts will host your website on a server in a low energy environment.
If a web page is likely to be printed, ensure the design doesn’t have large areas of colour which will waste large amounts of ink during printing.

Going Green in Graphic Design

15 Paths to More Sustainable and More Green Graphic Design

Sustainable Business and Design

Light Touch Solar and Electrical is a local business for whom I have designed their logo, branding and several pieces of promotional and marketing material. Some of Light Touch’s core values and services involve sustainable, renewable and clean energy along with reducing their environmental and carbon footprint wherever possible.


Tim Hodgson and Alice Moffett are old friends of mine who started the local business several years ago in Lennox Head. Tim is driven by a vision to decarbonise and decentrantilse the energy system and commits himself to helping the uptake of solar for business, home and community. Tim is a founding member of CORE Mullumbimby (COREM) whom have a vision for Mullumbimby to be 100% renewable by creating solar projects which local people can be a part of. Alice specialises in sustainability advice for homes, businesses and organisations.

Hence, both Tim, Alice and myself wanted such values to show through in any of the branding and marketing material.

Light Touch recently had a popular stall at ReNew Fest last Saturday at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds. They were a part of demonstrating Tesla solar batteries, electric cars and presented talks on solar and renewable energy.

Banner I designed at ReNew Fest in Mullumbimby


Some of the projects I have helped with include.

Business Cards
Soon after designing a logo I designed a business card for Light Touch. The cards have been printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks. Together with Alice we sought a local company that was able to offer this service. Producing such business cards makes them more environmentally friendly (less toxins from vegetable dyes and recycled paper uses less trees). Also having marketing material (that shows its on recyclable paper and printed with vegetable dyes) promotes a sustainable way of life which is great for any business but particularly important for a Solar Electrical company who’s key values and products are about being sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Business Card design on recycled paper using vegetable ink

The pull up banner was designed in a way so that it would be suitable to use at multiple events avoiding the need for multiple prints and minimum use of materials. Light Touch sourced a printing company that also hold sustainable and environmentally friendly values. The printing company were relatively local which helped reduce transportation costs/impact and carbon footprint.

Car Magnets
I designed magnets to be used as signage on Tim’s work van. They were designed so that they can be taken off and used on other vehicles or for Tim to use his vehicle for non Light Touch work. This means that only one set of magnets needed to be produced and one car can be used for multiple purposes and branding. Less printing, less cars so less waste and environmental impact.


Other sustainable marketing practices by Light Touch include using a monitor to display powerpoint presentation at events. This reduces the need to print lengthy brochures and gives the advantage of being easy to update without the need to re-print. A well designed and updated website has also just been completed for  similar such reasons.

Ad I designed for local independent newspaper The Echo

Ben Newman and Professor Astro Cat

Ben Newman is a freelance Illustrator based in Hastings, UK. He is a fan of animals and likes both cats and dogs as can be seen in his art. His most famous character is Professor Astro Cat.


Ben’s art features a distinct aesthetic fusing bold shapes, bright colours and playful characters being described as ‘bauhaus fuzzy felt.’ He has produced work for a large range of clients, and outside of commercial work his practice extends into worldwide exhibitions, paintings and three-dimensional collaborations. He currently spends most of his time on the ‘Professor Astro Cat’ children’s books. Ben also work as a freelance artist and lectures on illustration at various universities and conferences in the UK and Europe.


The Professor Astro Cat concept was originally created by Ben, backed up with scientific know-how provided by his friend and quantum physicist, Dr Dominic Walliman. Professor Astro Cat features in several educational books for children about science and space. He even has his own app for children to learn about the solar systems.


This character design works well for children’s books with is warm, soft and fuzzy feeling. Ben uses simple shapes, soft lines and pastel colours that matches well with the educational illustrations shown throughout the book, illustrative diagrams such as solar system, atoms and other scientific symbols. The Professor Astro cat character incorporates  sciency and space symbols into his various outfits and looks too.

Ben was inspired to create a space book after seeing the dull offerings in the bookshop where he once worked, and by “the sense of fascination and wonder” in the illustration-heavy books produced before man walked on the moon. Ben worked with his physicist friend Dominic Walliman to create Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, and spoke about the challenges of making something both scientifically robust and simple enough for his target audience. Borrowing the four-colour print process from the space books of old, his became a huge hit and has been translated into nine languages.

quote taken from It’s Nice That



Ken Cato

Ken Cato is an Australian designer with an international reputation. Cato’s influence is everywhere. He has designed thousands of corporate identities, including for Commonwealth Bank, myki public transport passes, and Network Seven. Cato has received many industry accolades in his 46-year career as a graphic designer, including a Swinburne University honorary doctorate.


Cato established his business, now called Cato Brand Partners in Melbourne in 1970. He now has offices in 15 countries, based in a Collingwood warehouse Cato spends half his time visiting overseas clients.

As a graphic designer, Cato encompasses all facets of corporate and brand management and design. Cato’s design philosophy is rooted in the concepts of functional design and minimalism. Some of his famous works are the visual identities for Seven Network and the City of Melbourne.d163703160f9eeeba23727f5ceea5047

Another piece of iconic work Cato has produced is the Australian Made logo. The Australian Made and Australian Grown trade mark logos signify products whose ingredients or production mostly originate from Australia. This programme was established in 1986 with the logo created by Ken Cato. Then in 1989 Cato designed the Commonwealth Bank logo which like the Australian Made logo is still currently used today and is widely recognised branding.


Australian Madecommbank_logo1_1989

Many of Cato’s logos are widely recognised but not always without criticism. One more recent logo that attracted some criticism and controversy was the latest South Australia logo created in 2013. More on the various opinions can be read here at Adelaide Now.