May 1, 2019
The terms Material Culture and Mass Consumption express the dynamic relationship between our society and the commodities which we deem significant. This has been put under recent scrutiny as we assess the current emergency state of our planet and our mindless consumption.
Consumer culture has rapidly grown since Henry Ford first introduced the moving assembly line manufacture, marking the beginning of mass produced assembly goods. Today the cost for fast, low priced, disposable, ‘supermarket’ clothing is the primary consumer buying decision. Behaviours have shifted from a need to shop to a desire to shop as the UK purchasing of clothing surged by 37% from 2001 - 2005, all in the name of fast fashion.
The World Wide Web makes this incredibly easy as customers can shop for items and brands across the globe. Consumerism has become a huge aspect of our daily lives with the impulse to have the next best thing at the cheapest price. This has a huge impact on the planet, politically, socially and most importantly - environmentally.
Commercial culture is so prevalent that there are movements such as Buy Nothing Day (BND), the School Kids Strike for the Planet and the international Extinction Rebellion strike on the 15th April 2019. There has been an increase in Television programmes highlighting the affects of climate change and new eco packaging manufacturing developments as we see plastic headlines permanently on the news today.
Millennials seem to be driving this trend, a generation more politically active and ethically diverse than preceding ones. A generation of creatives who use design as a leverage to advance social causes making witty and thought provoking design posters with the hope to make an impact. Original Environmental posters have become the most photographed part of any climate change strike to date. The Extinction Rebellion logo itself is helping to raise awareness as it becomes a wold wide symbol of defiance, the circle signifying the planet while the hourglass inside serves as a warning that time is running out. This trend has come just in time and I, as a graphic designer am keen to hop on board and join in.
As demand builds on businesses to go more green and avoid controversy in 2019 you can expect digital and graphic design elements to create a sense of self- awareness, the key phrases floating around being, biodegradable, eco friendly, minimalist, and dare I say it, vegan. Natural colour palettes and striped backed ‘raw’ packaging is making a comeback as we make a clear move away from artificial aesthetics.
Corona has listened to the mounting pressure from consumers and introduced their own biodegradable beer can packaging. Companies such as Corona who join the trend early can strategically use it as an effective marketing strategy. It is easy to make headlines as It is definitely deemed as more fashionable to be eco conscious as sustainable designs become more aesthetically desirable. This move, if branded right, could increase your customer base. Alongside this consumers will readily see a stream on keep cups and paper straws as the nation as a whole try to cut out the unnecessary use of single use plastics. Just last week London marathon 2019 made news for their plastic free seaweed water capsules, the ‘ooho’ edible package filled with Lucozade sport, was 100% edible.
As a graphic designer it is my role to communicate a responsible message. The more people in the creative industry who demonstrate a concern for the planet, the more affordable, high-quality choices will become available for packaging, printing and other design-related products much like the London Marathon water capsule breakthrough. If school children can create news worthy political posters, what is stopping the professional designers?