MoMA Goes Green


Read our interview on MoMA’s new treeless paper now used in all their retail packaging & boxes

Final_momaimage © Design & Source Productions Inc


Shoppers at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) stores may have noticed something different on their latest visit.  The packaging in all MoMA’s retail shops is now green.  We’re not just talking simple green here either.  Their gift packaging including boxes and all bags is now made from a revolutionary sustainable material called TerraSkin™ made by Design & Source Productions in New York.

TerraSkin™ and its eco-friendly characteristics

TerraSkin™ is made from a combination of large amounts of mineral powder (>75%) with a small quantity (<25%) of non-toxic resin to create an environmentally friendly paper. TerraSkin(TM)  has very similar characteristics to traditional paper with a tensile and tearing strength ratio of 1:1 – 2:1.  It also has many eco-friendly characteristics. First, the production of TerraSkin(TM)  requires no water, so the TerraSkin(TM) paper making process incurs no water pollutants. Second, as TerraSkin(TM)  contains high proportions of inorganic mineral powder, when the end user is done with the TerraSkin(TM)  product, the used paper will degrade when left out in nature for approximately three to nine months back into the mineral powder.  If preferred, used papers can also be incinerated safely as non-toxic resins will not emit smoke or poisonous gas by-products. TerraSkin(TM) can also be easily and cost-effectively recycled in the future.  Furthermore, on the production front, residues of inorganic mineral powder can be either reused or safely returned to nature.  Most importantly, in producing TerraSkin(TM) , there are no trees involved.  The paper is treeless.

Paper has printing benefits as well

With all environmentally friendly advantages the paper also has significant printing flexibility.  Because TerraSkin(TM)  is not a fiber, it does not absorb ink like regular paper, using 20-30% less ink than regular paper. The images stay much more crisp and clean than on regular paper because the ink does not bleed.  TerraSkin(TM)  also does not require any additional coatings or laminations.  The paper is water- resistant and stays strong and durable and it has its own unique texture based on its mineral make up.

MoMA decides to use TerraSkin™ in all Retail Packaging

Julie Parker, the Creative Services Manager for Design & Source Productions was part of the MoMA project team.  “In January of ’06 we approached the Design Department at MoMA and introduced them to TerraSkin as a sustainable option for their retail store gift packaging.  They were extremely receptive – it was something the department had been interested in pursuing for some time,” said Parker.  “We went into development soon after that first visit and the bags and boxes are now being used in all of MoMA’s retail shops,” she continued.

Parker said the design of MoMA’s existing boxes transferred extremely well to TerraSkin™, and in fact, because of the construction of the original boxes, the smooth surface of TerraSkin™ improved the opening and closing of their one-piece box.  She said TerraSkin™ also has a naturally bright, white surface.  MoMA’s old paper boxes had no printing on them except for the MoMA logo, the new TerraSkin boxes retain this look but with an added “pop.”  “We re-engineered two boxes which worked better as an  “envelope” style,” she said.Moma_2TerraSkin™ was also used for a Special Exhibition shopping bag – the Exhibition “Eye on Europe” which ran from October 15, 2006 to January 1, 2007.  This bag recently received an award by Graphic Design USA magazine