on visual sustainability
Research on sustainability through aesthetics

Since 2019 Benedetta has conducted research on “Visual Sustainability”, or sustainability through aesthetics. Presented in over 8 countries so far, the research introduces a largely new approach to the theme of sustainability in visual culture, bringing the focus on the visual qualities of a design—discussing the role of beauty, aesthetics, and imagination as central to futures of co-existence. 
Through a feminist, post-colonial analysis of form, the research highlights the connections between visual culture, systemic power and sustainable futures. In rejecting over-simplistic calls for austerity in form, it uncovers the contribution of visuality with a focus on the structural changes that aesthetics can bring about.
The research stems from Benedetta’s 10+ years engagement with the social equity sector and as former design lead at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

In 2019–2024, Benedetta leads the first course of its kind on Visual Sustainability at the BFA in graphic design at Konstfack University, the largest art university in Sweden, currently at its 5th installment.

Her talk “On Visual Sustainability” presents a comprehensive introduction to the theme. The talk has been presented, amongst others, at Kunsthall Stavanger, Beckmans College of DesignUmeå University, the University of the Arts in BremenAalto University, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Stockholm School of Economics and Grafill, as well as design companies.

The research has also been selected for the international design conference Art of Research at Aalto University in Helsinki (2020), and the design conference Design as Common Good in Switzerland (2021). In 2020, Benedetta presents the research as invited speaker at AIGA Design Conference 2020; a transcript of her interview is published on AIGA Eye on DesignIn 2021, she presents the research as invited speaker at Design (Re)Thinkers, the largest graphic design conference of Canada.

The research is featured in the seminal publications Feminist Designer by MIT Press (2023) and What it Means to be a Designer Today by AIGA and Princeton Architectural Press (2024).

Benedetta presents the research to expand the work of students, design companies and institutions, aiding the public discourse around design and visual culture. To invite her as speaker or educator, get in touch at info@studiobenedettacrippa.com


What Is “Visual Sustainability,” and How Can Designers Challenge Power Through Form?, on AIGA Eye on Design

What can graphic designers do in the era of climate crisis? on Scratching the Surface

Design as Common Good 2021 Conference Proceedings, edited by Massimo Botta and Sabine Junginger

With Dilemmas from the Future, by Minami Hirayama

Sustainability within Graphic Design, by Josie White 

“On Challenging Power through the Visual”, in Feminist Designer, edited by Alison Place, MIT Press 2023

“On Visual Sustainability”, in What it Means to be a Designer Today, edited by Liz Stinson and Jarrett Fuller, AIGA, Princeton Architectural Press 2024

From the words of design student Laura Thorsgaard Kjær:

“During my second year at Konstfack I got introduced to Benedetta Crippa [...] Going through her work and papers on design, it felt like someone slowly took my handcuffs off. Highly inspired by and borrowing from her model “Layers of Action” on visual sustainability, I constructed [...] to help me through the complicated concept of sustainability. To know what questions to ask, when and why. To help me make informed choices when I design, to help me make informed compromises in my ow practice. And now I had my how.”

Thank you to Sara Kaaman and Catherine Anyango Grünewald at Konstfack, Sara Teleman, Brita Lindvall Leitmann, Lisa Baumgarten, Anja Neidhardt, Johanna Lewengard, Inna Zrajaeva and the Climate Group at Umeå University, Meg Miller, AIGA, AIGA Eye on Design, Arja Karhumaa, Kunsthall Stavanger, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Alison Place, KATE Design Studio, the Swiss Design Network, the Canadian Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD), Riccardo Masiero, Parco design studio, Felicia Nilsson, Minami Hirayama, Jarrett Fuller, Thale Meisfjord, Grafill Bergen, and the Stockholm Environment Institute for their support of the research

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