A closer look at the founder of Designers Accord.
By Erin Weber
I just returned from the Designers Accord Global Summit on Design Education and Sustainability. It was a two-day meeting of the minds organized by Valerie Casey, the founder of Designers Accord. Before the summit, I was familiar with Valerie’s work championing sustainable design, but now I am personally familiar with the grace, humor and conviction with which she is leading the movement.
Valerie’s resume would catch the eye and admiration of any designer: Pentagram, frog Design and, most recently, IDEO. Yet, I would probably have never heard her name based on that laundry list alone. Valerie earned my attention with her provoking idea, dedication and willingness to lead the design industry into an enlightened, sustainable future.
Designers Accord started with an article Valerie wrote for frog design called “The Designers Dilemma ”. With Paul Hawken’s support, Valerie’s “Kyoto Treaty of Design” started attracting a great deal of attention and the Designers Accord was launched. The organization is a platform by which designers, educators and business leaders can share resources and methodologies with the goal of integrating sustainable practices into design. Those who sign the Accord commit to guidelines for continual learning and teaching surrounding the practice of benign by design.
A great idea alone does not necessarily ensure the evolution of a concept into reality. Valerie embodies a number of noteworthy traits of a design leader which have proved a foundation for the success of Designers Accord. She:
- Surrounds herself with experts (those who support as well as challenge her)
- Clearly articulates the mission and goals for the organization and its initiatives
- Cultivates the opinions of various perspectives
- Maintains a sense of optimism and humor while tackling complex challenges
- Is humble, friendly and genuine and therefore has attracted a like-minded and committed army of supporters
It’s no wonder TIME magazine recently recognized Valerie as a “Hero of the Environment 2009.” I hope her story inspires you to consider adopting the Designers Accord into your professional and personal lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Allan Chochinov’s interview with Valerie on Core77.
As a closing note: I also want to say a special thank you to Robyn, Valerie’s logistical partner, and to all the inspirational speakers who presented at the Summit. Most notably, our very own Deb Johnson, the Pratt Academic Director of Sustainability, shared with us the fantastic work she’s doing right in our own back yard!