About Eric Benson
Eric Benson was born in Arizona and raised in Mid-Michigan where he later received his BFA in graphic and industrial design from the University of Michigan in 1998. He worked professionally as a UI/UX designer at Razorfish and Texas Instruments before he received his MFA in design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. His MFA thesis became the internationally recognized and award-winning sustainable design website www.re-nourish.org. His work with Re-nourish translated into an academic career where he currently is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research and teaching at Illinois laid the foundation to create the Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab. Fresh Press explores the potential of papermaking to be zero waste, environmentally sustainable, and a catalyst for a thriving local economy.
Benson has published and lectured internationally on the importance of sustainable design. His work has also garnered numerous design awards and has been seen in notable venues like The Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and RISD. He is also an active participant in the national design scene and local Champaign community serving on the AIGA Design Educators Community and on the board of directors at 40North and Common Ground Food Co-op.
Research and publications
Ongoing and upcoming research
- Fresh Press – explore and enact the potential of regional sustainable agricultural fiber waste as paper and paper products.
- Re-nourish – nonprofit organization that provides online tools and advocates for awareness and action for sustainable systems thinking in the visual communication design community.
- Indigenous rights and climate fiction storytelling
Design to Renourish (2017)
"Dezombies and the Coming Design Apocalypse: Confronting the Urgent Need to Increase Racial Diversity and Environmental Awareness in University-Level American Communication Design Programs," Dialectic, 1, Issue 2. (Fall 2017).
"Connecting Values: Teaching Sustainability to Communication Designers," Design and Culture: The Journal of a Design Studies Forum. (Spring 2012).
"Sustainable Design Education Rethought: The Case for Eco-Modernism," Design Principles & Practices: An International Journal, 4, Issue 6, pp. 163-176. (Spring 2011).
"Designing the Immaterial," DesignInquiry, (Spring 2010).
"The Intersection of Identity Within Pattern & Structure: A FLYSPACE Continuing Collaboration," Multi: The RIT Journal of Plurality and Diversity in Design, 2 No. 2, (Spring 2010).
"Graphic Junk: Re-evaluating What We Make." Design Philosophy Politics. (April 2009).
"Ethics of a Designer in a Global Economy: A Class on Contemporary Design Issues," Design Principles and Practices, An International Journal, 2, Issue 1, pp. 167-174. (Summer 2008).
"What is Sustainable Graphic Design?" Design Philosophy Politics, (December 2007).