GD USA Magazine Article: Green Design: Wander Profile

Sustainability continues to exert a powerful impact in design decisions. In our June 2014 Print Design survey, roughly eight-in-ten GDUSA readers specify eco-friendly papers sometimes, and more than a nine-in-ten say that sustainability is a factor in their design assignments and solutions.

At one time, designers identified “green” with the specific attributes of a product ‒ the best example being the recycled content of a paper grade. And, at one time, “greenness” often seemed driven by hot passions and heartfelt zeal. Nothing wrong with that. But, frankly, what we found in preparing this 2014 report, was that a more holistic concept of sustainability has taken hold.

For most creatives, being “green” still means seeking out sustainable products, services and vendors, which seem to be getting easier to find. However, it also means taking into account concerns such as energy and emissions, forest stewardship and conservation, third party certifications and sourcing, media alternatives and relative footprints, shipping and distribution, internal studio procedures ‒ all now seen as integral factors in responsible and sustainable design. Increasingly, it means aligning sustainable designs with the client’s brand, products, mission, processes in ways that is real, verifiable, transparent, commonsensical. And, finally, it means adopting an ever-widening perspective that goes beyond even lifecycle analysis to embrace responsibility writ large ‒ linking environmental responsibility, fiscal responsibility and social responsibility.

It all feels a bit cooler, more deliberate, more mindful, more matter-of-fact. Which makes “green” design (if you will forgive me) a more sustainable business practice going forward. Meaningful movements, they say, are conceived by fire in the soul but best executed with clinical coolness.



Wander is a creative collective providing concept, production, design and postproduction with additional branding and marketing capabilities. The collective’s Syncopated Storytelling first debuted with the “Rainforest Alliance – Follow The Frog” film that was awarded with a 2013 Cannes Lion, a TED Ads Worth Spreading, AICP Next, and many other honors. The collective has since gone on to create nationally and internationally recognized branded content and PSAs for LinkedIn, Oxfam America, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Heart Association and Coexist. The company was founded by Aaron Weber (pictured photo by Zack Menna) whose 5-minute short film “Wander” tells the magical story of a young boy who discovers his inspiration on his way to school; it was a hit at international film festivals and won the IFC Media Lab Award. Comments Weber: “Wander operates as a collective. This makes us nimble. We can put a single person on the ground in a remote region of Africa tomorrow or an entire crew in a village in Central America. This scalability and global reach makes us suited for the cause-marketing sector, and our approach allows us to deliver dense and complex narratives in a clear and hopefully entertaining way. We love working on projects that have the potential to make a difference. One topic we are passionate about is sustainability ‒ because, really, all else pales when faced with the basic idea of keeping our planet functioning. But as serious as this and other issues are, it helps to cut through the clutter and sometimes humor is the best way to connect audiences to serious topics. People really identified with Follow The Frog, for example, because they often feel helpless in the face of massive issues. We aren’t going to leave our lives … even our desks … to change the world. And that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes a click, a social media post, a well-written email and a monetary contribution is the most appropriate action. The thing is to not be complacent ‒ we can all do a little bit to help, and I hope the work we create encourages change and is part of something bigger.”


“Be David” is a long-form PSA crafted in collaboration with Oxfam America. Wander created an information-rich narrative that blends enthusiasm and a touch of humor to activate viewers to champion for change with Oxfam America. In other words: find their inner David. The “Be David” project highlights the story of Ghana’s Joanna Manu, who attended a training session sponsored by Oxfam America and stood up against land threats and environmental hazards wrought by an open pit gold mining company. The larger message ‒ that we all have inner power to influence and make change ‒ is deftly conveyed using quick cuts, graphic design, and unexpected imagery to punctuate the film’s voice-over narration with warmth and humor. Says Oxfam America’s Creative Director Jane Huber: “Joanna Manu is emblematic of how people can create real change if they have access to information and can exercise their rights. Our hope is that ‘Be David’ will close the distance between Oxfam’s beneficiaries and American viewers and that it will inspire people to join our community to become activists in their own right.” The film can be seen at


Reposted from GD USA Magazine: September / October 2014 Issue




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