Dieline Conference 2022


On October 20, Dave Bolton and Melissa Sadowski attended the Dieline conference at the Market Line in NYC.

While they had the chance to speak to many industry leaders and sit in on presentations that spoke about successful branding and creativity, the main overarching theme of the event was promoting sustainability in packaging and design.

The stats are dire. Over 91% of plastics are not recycled. When plastic is recycled, more harmful chemicals are produced, polluting our environment further. 70% of our clothing is made of plastic materials. Plastic has driven hyper-consumption and we have polluted our planet with it. It’s in our water, our breastmilk, everywhere.

CPG brands can no longer afford to create non-sustainable packaging. As creatives, we have the power to influence change, innovate new solutions, and challenge our clients. Business is the tool of change, not ethical consumers, not government. “It is always inspiring to see how other agencies are using design strategy to help build their clients’ brands”, adds Dave. “Design plays a critical role in establishing the consumer relationship and influencing future behavior.”

Dieline founder, Andrew Gibbs (pictured below with Dave and Melissa), kicked off the conference presenting sustainable packaging trends:

  • Beautiful Refills (i.e. dove)
  • Start-Up Sustainable (solid cosmetics)
  • Bio-Based Everything (paper fiber, compostable packaging)
  • Powder To the People (removing water from products to save on shipping and fuel)
Dave, Andrew Gibbs & Melissa

Sian Sutherland discussed how the new resource plasticfree.org can be a tool for change in the industry. Feel free to join the movement and learn more at plasticfree.org.

Sian Sutherland

Brandi Parker, Head of Sustainability at Pearlfisher, and a former colleague of Melissa’s, spoke about finding the joy in sustainability. Cynicism doesn’t change the world. People need to take action. The pandemic proved that people can change their behavior. We can use the recession as an opportunity to shift mindsets. We need to stop making and perpetuating pretty trash. We, as creative professionals, can rewrite the sustainability brief to include joy, optimism and sharing, and design things well from the beginning.

Brandi Parker, Sarah & Melissa

In addition to sharing their agency work creating category redefining brands, Katie Levy and Mike McVicar – Co founders & Creative Directors of Gander (authors of “Kiss the Ground”) encouraged us to replace our lawns with meadows. Follow their project @makemeadows. Meadows are our best hope to curtail global warming. They use less gasoline, water, money and time and actively help draw out carbon from the atmosphere and store it underground, thereby cooling the planet!

Madison Utendahl – founder of Utendahl creative, the first all-female, black-owned agency explained her agency’s approach to creative: 1) Change the rules, 2) Be rebels with a cause, then 3) Rest, recover, create. She believes rest leads to great work. Utendahl implemented five weeks of mandatory company-wide time off per year. She also shared some surprising stats about the creative agency landscape including that only 29% of Creative directors are women, and after hearing that only 3% of creative agencies are women owned, Melissa expressed, “I am proud to say I work at Smith Design, a second generation women owned design agency.” Additionally, only 3% of graphic designers are people of color, and <1% of agencies are owned by people of color. By employing only women and being black-owned, Utendahl has a unique perspective in the creative industry.

Madison Utendahl

Melissa and Dave had a noteworthy time attending this year’s Dieline Conference 2022. They are now empowered to help lead the charge to save our planet, influencing peers and our clients to make more sustainable choices and advocating for more planet-friendly ideas from the beginning of every design brief. Making sustainability “cool” is a lofty goal, but one we need to embrace for future generations. As speakers Sanuk Kim and Antonia Lazar from Collins said, “Design is not what we make… design is what we make possible.”

Get in touch

    At Smith Design, our culture is rooted in caring. We make a conscious and collective effort to translate our values into actions that benefit our staff, our clients, our community and our environment.


    ©2022 SmithDesign, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED   |   Privacy Policy   |   8 Budd Street, Morristown NJ 07960   |   973.429.2177