thomas.matthews has unveiled a new studio identity. In keeping with their design ethos the work aims to dispell the myths associated with sustainable printing and making the best of leftover materials…
The project, which includes identity design, self-promotional mailers, business cards and stationery, is particularly interesting as it began with the material concens – selecting the paper and inks, choices that are typically left until the latter stages of a brief.
“We knew that by switching to a post-consumer recycled stock we could save up to 70% of the embodied energy of a piece of print,” explains studio founder Sophie Thomas of the thinking behind the work.
“But then we thought, ‘what if we use paper that is already sitting in our printer’s – Calverts – warehouse because of an over order?’ So we rifled through their surplus stock and chose some suitable weights and finishes. Then we asked our printer to use it as ‘make-ready’ i.e. paper that preps the press on a number of jobs. Once it had finished this useful task, we then saved it from being discarded.”
This approach was also applied to the inks that the studio chose to work with, with even vegetable-based inks coming in for a stringent reassessment by the studio. “Vegetable-based inks may be low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) and less polluting,” says Thomas, “but there are some serious questions around soy crops causing rainforest deforestation to contend with.
“Every time a designer asks for a particular spot colour, even for the smallest job, the printer mixes up a tin. That’s a whole litre of ink when you may only require a spoonful. So instead of contributing to this global impact, we spent an afternoon peering into leftover pots, checking them for low barium and copper along the way, to arrive at our new brand palette.”
Thomas says they also investigated the impact of using metallic inks, often considered to be an environmental no-no.
“We checked the supplier’s specification and asked some experts about the silver ink and the effect of using big floods of colour on the de-inking process,” she explains.
“They responded by telling us that our approach was great and would not detract from the overall recyclability of the finished article. So we had our paper and our inks. Now we could take these back to the studio and get designing.
“It may seem a backwards process starting with the restriction of leftover materials, then thinking about what items would make best use of space on the press sheet – but it made perfect sense to us.”