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Living signage could hold key to more sustainable future, says MDX designer

Growable Graphics project creates sustainable signs for temporary events such as exhibitions

MDX graduate Trixi Marx created self-sustaining sustainable signage system Growable Graphics as a result of wanting to support local biodiversity while improving air-quality by reducing carbon emissions.

Her concept is to work with nature instead of against it by using hexagon-shaped wood tiles covered with local moss and lichen species to make letters, numbers, arrows and other shapes for use at temporary events.

Trixi, who moved from Germany to study MA Graphic Design at MDX, came up with the idea after creating an exhibition for her master project that encourages people to learn about sustainable future innovation and to engage with its message.

The tiles improve local biodiversity as they live on the venue's rooftop over the year and get harvested for events.

“The tiles can get used over and over without creating any waste so this is a live example of how we can fuse nature and graphic design for a better future," Trixi said.

"The use of biomaterials could be a true game-changer when it comes to solving our waste problem."

Trixi is interested in minimalistic design with maximal impact and describes her work as “a new type of design, fusing biology and the graphic design industry,”.

She has named this style ‘biophilic graphic design’, after Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis which suggests that all humans seek contact with nature. 

“Biophilic is a popular design method in architecture and interior design and mimics nature through colours, shape, light or smell,” she said.

“It is proven to increase mental health and productivity while also helping to reduce stress. I have now found my calling for my future career.”

Growable Graphics was nominated for the Green Product Award 2023 under the “concept” category.

Inspired by science and the biodesign community, Trixi believes her work can serve as an example for other designers who want to do something useful with their skills but are tired of creating another bio-branding or save-the-planet poster.
“In my opinion, designers are problem solvers and should act a bit unconventional from time to time, in order to find better solutions for big problems,” she said.

Trixi has also branched into luminescent packing and business cards, an idea that evolved when she started thinking about how graphic design could help with our current electricity crisis.

With 80 species of fungi generating light, self-glowing signs and billboards could help light pollution and the energy crisis.

She said: “Even though we live in a world where things around us are mainly manufactured and artificial, we have had a close relationship with nature before the industrial revolution started. I would like to bring that connection back through my work.

"Designers designed our world into a mess,  we can find ways to design ourselves out of it."

Currently backpacking trough Central America and working as a mural artist, Trixi’s dream is to open a studio in London with a focus on nature-inspired design solutions and future innovations.

Find out more about studying Graphic Design at MDX.

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