The key to GreenSource magazine’s design success appears to be a strong sense of balance between complex, sophisticated data, and an accessible, quick and easy-to-read format. “We’re unlike many design publications with pretty pictures. We have real data to present,” says editor Robert Ivy. “But we’re not like a textbook. It’s really easy to present a complex volume of information in words, in a gray and boring manner. But we try to translate complex ideas into an immediately apparent, attractive form to tell the story quickly.”
GreenSource also strives to balance what managing editor Jane Kolleeny calls “aesthetic beauty and sustainable criteria.” Often, the building design projects they choose to feature are LEED certified, which means they are considered adequately sustainable by the U.S. Green Building Council but does not necessarily mean that they’re visually appealing. “It might be easier to choose more immediately attractive, seemingly beautiful buildings, but the builders, owners, contractors, and designers work hard to make these buildings sustainable. And they’re getting better looking.”
The aesthetic-metric balance has hit even closer to home for GreenSource. “To make our images pop off the page and get a balance of color using 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper takes a considerable amount of effort,” says Ivy. “Our first issue came out saturated, so we had to go back to the drawing board. Now, in our selection, we avoid certain images that don’t present well. We are learning as we go.”
Finally, art director Anna Schlesinger says they use light typography and negotiate with editors on story length to make sure the images don’t become secondary. They also negotiate on size and number of images to make sure the images don’t kill the text. “The content is presented in a rhythmic sort of way. We make decisions based on each casestudy and with each issue’s rhythm and presence so that the whole package is solid,” says Schlesinger.
A Magazine’s Rhythm
GreenSource looks to find this rhythm in very specific ways. One way is through the consistency of its illustrations. Their drawings are usually CAD files that get saved by freelancers as EPF Vector files which become flexible for their designer, Shostak Studios, to rework “with a color palette specific to the GreenSource look,” says Schlesinger.
Judges Comments: “Beautiful photography, and the layout is not over or under designed.”