Information Design

KT Meaney
Greening the Grocery Store
It turns out that the "recycling symbol" at the bottom of my yogurt container had nothing to do with its recyclability. So why was it there? My curiosity led to findings around which I built a design class.


Alice Twemlow
Dodging, Dazzling, and Divulging
Design Responses to Mass Surveillance


Observed
Redesiging the Parking Sign
Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting parking tickets. Her solution: redesign the signs.



Rob Walker
Object of Interest: The Yellow Card
An appreciation of a great World Cup object: the yellow card.



Observed
Shape: A Film About Design
Shape is a short film that is part of MakeShapeChange , a project aimed at young people to get them thinking about how the world is made around them and where design fits in.


Debbie Millman
Jonathan Harris
Jonathan Harris on his web and database art projects, his relationship to time and memory, and the sexuality of the internet.



Rob Walker
Seeing The Problem
How a graphic communication campaign could help us address a real electoral map crisis: Gerrymandering 2.0.



Debbie Millman
Clement Mok
Clement Mok on the early days of Apple computer, the joys of working for Steve Jobs and starting his successful businesses.


Rob Walker
Branding By Numbers
Emblemetric backs its assessment of the American Airlines logo with "the data." Of course, that's open to interpretation.


Rob Walker
What Are You Looking At?
The maps of the future will tell you what to look at. Sometimes, you should look elsewhere.


John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment. This week's focus is charts and diagrams.



Tom Vanderbilt
Interface Time
Review of "Talk to Me" at Museum of Modern Art


Rick Poynor
The Dictionary as Art Concept
A new Magritte exhibition catalogue is not the first to take the form of a dictionary. How important is originality when it comes to book design?


Rick Poynor
Paul Stiff, the Reader’s Champion
For the late Paul Stiff, design educator, writer, editor and skeptic, typography must never neglect to serve the reader.



Julie Lasky
Design Indaba 2011
Review of Design Indaba 2011 conference in Cape Town, South Africa



Mark Lamster
Gerd Arntz: Design Icon
Gerd Arntz: A design icon who designed icons.


Alexandra Lange
Networks Before the Internet
A new exhibit at the Noguchi Museum shows how small and intertwined were the worlds of mid-century art, design and architecture.



Jonathan Schultz
Solo Kota Kita
Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.


Michael Bierut
Mr. Vignelli’s Map
Vignelli Celebration: Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map is a beautiful example of information design that was ultimately rejected by its users.



William Underhill
Map Kibera
Report on the Map Kibera project to provide navigation and information on Nairobi's massive informal settlement.



Alexandra Lange
Nothing Runs Like A...
A note about Deere & Company’s foray into the consumer market.



Gong Szeto
Interview with Brian Oakes
It’s not often that graphs and numbers take center stage in a popular film, but in the brilliant hands of graphic designer Brian Oakes, information design is not a backdrop but a main character in the recently released documentary I.O.U.S.A. Interview by Gong Szeto.



Tom Vanderbilt
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do




Michael Erard
Word Made Flesh
The forgotten discipline of sentence diagramming forces the structure of language to wear the clothes of images. A sentence diagram is less a map than a portrait, and in this vaudeville language is painted, corsetted and trussed.



William Drenttel
Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)
How do we measure the danger level from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus? What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times. We took our cue from a certain John James Audubon. Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.



Jessica Helfand
Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind
Door hangers seem the perfect metaphor for FEMA's failure: they're one-dimensional, unnecessarily complicated, and basically useless.



Michael Bierut
The Great Non-Amber-Colored Hope
A student design for a prescription pill bottle takes a metoric rise to mass production and becomes an instant icon in the world of graphic design.



Jessica Helfand
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto




William Drenttel
Maps of Cyberspace
It is the internet that has changed our perception of space, precisely because the sheer volume of interconnectivity is beyond our imagination, whether it be language-based, data-based, or community-based. Add black holes and photographs of asteroidal moons around Jupiter, and our world seems increasingly expansive. Yet, if we cannot map it, how can we understand it?



Michael Bierut
Me and My Pyramid
The redesign of the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid is neither satisfying nor nourishing from an information design point of view.



Jessica Helfand
My Friend Flickr
Flickr is a digital photo sharing website and web services suite that was developed by Ludicorp, a Vancouver, Canada company founded in 2002. It's a utopian oddity — a culture enabled by a technology that in turn enables a culture — and it's a brilliant example of socially networked software because it's free, its easy, and it makes sense.



Jessica Helfand
The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block
On February 23,
Christies in New York will auction more than 1,000 items dating as far back as the early 17th century, all of it tracing the history of cyberspace.



The Editors
Understanding and Action




Jessica Helfand
Am I Blue
Bumper stickers and lawn posters aside, Americans showed their concern on election day 2004 by standing in epic lines at polling centers around the nation, but also in certain subtle, discreetly visual ways. From dressing in all blue (or red) to wearing "I voted today" buttons, there has been a kind of silent visual communication effort steadily in play for the last 36 hours.



William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician III




Michael Bierut
The Idealistic Corporation
American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.



William Drenttel
Learning from Las Vegas: The Book That (Still) Takes My Breath Away




Jessica Helfand
One Person, One Vote, One MRI?




Michael Bierut
Information Design and the Placebo Effect
It turns out that New York City is filled with buttons for pedestrians to activitate "Walk" signals at busy intersections that have never worked. Does pressing these useless buttons provide us with a sense that at least we're doing something?



William Drenttel
Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.



William Drenttel
Uut, Uup and Away
What happens when we discover new elements, especially ones on the outer fringes of the periodic table? Where did Uut and Uup come from?



Michael Bierut
Errol Morris Blows Up Spreadsheet, Thousands Killed
Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara" demonstrates his mastery of information design as a poetic narrative device.



Michael Bierut
Mark Lombardi and the Ecstasy of Conspiracy
Artist Mark Lombardi's intricate handdrawn diagrams describing the relationships behind contemporary political and financial scandals are both beautiful objects and extraordinary feats of information design.



William Drenttel
Information Archaeology
Russ Kick is "a self-described 'information archaeologist...'" The revealing of state secrets through deconstructing a PDF.



William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician II
More on Edward Tufte and his critique of PowerPoint.



Jessica Helfand
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician I




Observed | January 18

From The Amplifier Foundation—an extraordinary initiative that needs to be funded, now—before it’s too late. [JH]

From our friends at Continuum, a cogent, level-headed argument explaining why so many corporate-level design thinking initiatives are inevitably doomed to failure. [JH]

Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena launch a campaign to fund public art to protest the inauguration and beyond. [MB]


Observed | January 17

Extraordinary motion graphics from the French motion graphics genius Maxime Causeret, with music by Max Cooper. [JH]

The long lost connection between and Marilyn Monroe’s most famous scene and Design Observer’s own Bonnie Siegler. [MB]

Juventus—an Italian soccer team— reveals its pared down, minimalist new logo. You know what happens next. [JH]

“I want to create new things.” A New York Times profile of legendary book designer Irma Boom. [MB]

Peter Mendelsund on family, memory, and W.G. Sebald. [MB]

The suit is dead. Long live the suit! [JH]


Observed | January 16

V&A Head Designer Annabel Judd is taking on science. And here’s what’s happening Stateside. [JH]

Wells Fargo rejects a Black Lives Matter debit card. [JH]

Richard Prince disavows his appropriated Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump and returns the money they paid him for it. [MB]


Observed | January 13

Yves Béhar designs a robot for the elderly he’s calling a “companion”. [JH]

Mr. Poopie explores the uncanny visual relationship between poop and ice cream. (Via Modes of Criticism.) [MB]

Shepherd Fairey’s protest posters. [JH]

Beautiful data: NYC-style but open and available to all. [JH]


Observed | January 12

The newly-minted field of “behavioral design” looks to have pretty much nothing to doing with design. Is taking design’s name in vain OK? I’m starting to wonder. [JH]

Sleep Mode is an exhibition on the art of the screensaver at Het Nieuwe Institute, Rotterdam. [MB]

Engineers at UCLA have come up with a design that offers unlimited phone bandwidth. [JH]

Everything you ever wanted to know about publishers, design, and newsletters. [JH]

Forget about robots taking our jobs: in Australia a new fashion startup lets customers design their own products. [JH]

The irresistible narrative behind the legendary napkin sketch that upended US tax policy. [MB]


Observed | January 11

The folk power of Jamaican dancehall signs. [MB]

Seven ways for architecture and design firms to attract top talent. [MB]

Is Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic update to the London double decker bus being discontinued? [MB]

The shopping experience at every mall in America can be traced back to one second-tier city in the Midwest. [MB]

In honor of his 86th birthday, a quick overview of Massimo Vignelli‘s enduring NYC subway legacy. [MB]

Meet Galina Balashova, the woman who spent three decades designing the interior of Soviet spacecraft. [MB]


Observed | January 10

Photographer Michael Wolf and the dazzling and depressing architecture of density in megacities. [MB]

Thomas Hine‘s Populuxe once imagined a sedan where four people could sit in the back seat and play bridge. That moment may be coming soon: the future of the “occupant” experience in self-driving cars, from BMW. [JH]



Jobs | January 18