The big picture

Map Drapery

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In a pinch, Elisabeth Lecourt’s dresses may be able to lead you through rivers and mountains. The French designer forgoes fabric for vintage maps, creating her simple and beautifully delicate frocks from old maps of the U.S., France, Los Angeles, India, etc. Drawn to their poetic nature, Lecourt hopes her dresses can represent “a portrait of people through their clothes, like a blue-print of their soul.”

World as 100 People

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We recently came across the enlightening, incredible set of statistics known as the “World as 100 People,” which has been interpreted infographically a number of times. The concept, based on this 1990 article by Donella Meadows, provides a clear picture of our global state of affairs by simplifying the world into a village of 100 people. Graphically presented, the information can be incredibly powerful – whether shown simply divided in one image, or cut-paper style into geometric pie charts. One of the best visual interpretations is this bold, clean set of postcards – one for each category, showing clearly that of 100, 83 villagers have clean water, 20 consume 80% of the energy, and 7 have computers.

Spring Pattern

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It can’t be helped – Spring is on our minds. So we were recently drawn to the beautiful, bright, patterned illustrations of Irish designers Poppy & Red. Somehow even their Christmas patterns feels light and spring-y, with great hand-drawn type and whimsical patterned animals. Their designs are nostalgic yet modern, but they obviously take inspiration from the past, with their vintage collection of cute sewing-themed and typewriter patterns.

Veggies Visualized

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A literal picture of health, Pop Chart Lab’s “Various Varieties of Vegetables” chart lovingly, obsessively illustrates over 400 vegetables (and some fruits). The simple drawings are at once charming and educational – apparently there are over 20 types of cucumbers, divided into categories of “Pickling,” “Slicing,” and “Burpless.” From the Rhizome category, with Galangal and Lotus Root – to Courgette Flowers and Flashy Trout Back Romaine, the comprehensive chart could make a vegetable lover out of anyone.

Space Age

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Astronauts get the chance to “escape” on a whole other level. Many, however, never make it to the moon, or into space in the ways that we typically think. TED-Ed has a great series on space, including a little, engagingly-animated short on the “Life of an Astronaut.” NASA’s Jerry Carr narrates, telling his story of working as an astronaut for several years. Whether helping prep and test lunar modules, or directing and communicating with the modules once they were in space, Carr details his work on the ground until he went on to spend over 2,000 hours in space from 1974-78. Other interesting lessons in the series include Ariel Anbar on “Finding Habitable Worlds,” and “Shedding Light on Dark Matter,” with Patricia Burchat.

Historical Travels

If you’re looking for a quick escape at your desk, and want to learn something while you’re at it, check out GOOD’s wonderful interactive graphic: “Wanderlust.” History’s “greatest journeys” are mapped here, and following along is easy. Click on Amelia Earhart’s journeys, and her path of travel across the world is highlighted. A dialog box appears with Amelia’s picture, and an encyclopedic blurb. You can then click through and follow her path from Oakland, CA to New Guinea before her final flight. Access other famed travels – get a glimpse into explorer’s expeditions, like DeSoto and Columbus; check out the paths of the Old Silk Road and the Orient Express, along with Kerouac’s trip in On the Road.

Healthy Data

An ambitious competition posed by the government ‘s Presidential Innovation Fellows program asked designers to tackle an all-too-overlooked problem: the design of medical records. 230 individuals and groups, many from several top design firms responded with entries, showing the great possibilities in applying clean, simple information design principles to an often misunderstood area. In addition to presenting a better visual layout, the projects goals include: helping patients better manage health; enabling doctors to understand, use and share patients’ information; and helping family members and friends care for their loved ones. Team curators will select and refine a final design, which will then be shared on an open-source site for health-record companies to incorporate into their systems.

Pinterest Palette

Many of us gaze at Pinterest as a source of inspiration, especially for home and interior design. A new project taps into the site’s ability to show trends, charting the color choice preferences in rooms of Turkish users. The results are displayed in simple, clean color pie charts over each grey room, revealing the popularity of canary yellow in living rooms, and off-white in bedrooms. While the project solely focused on the preferences in Turkish homes, it belies a new, interesting way that Pinterest can be utilized in the future – with a great snapshot of collections of visual trends.

New York by Hand

Looking at a typical map of New York City, its impossible to get an understanding of the vibrant, complex layers of every nook and cranny to explore. British Illustrator Jenni Sparks doesn’t quite get absolutely every worthwhile milemarker into her hand-drawn map of NYC, but her fun, elaborate rendition is a fantastic visual representation of the city’s range of personalities. She includes well-known institutions like City Hall and the Theater District alongside small bars and restaurants, and cultural notes on Sex and the City and Bob Dylan.

Chilean Memorial

“The Geometry of Conscience” is a powerful memorial installation in Santiago, Chile created by New Yorker Alfredo Jaar to honor Chilean victims of Pinochet’s dictatorship. In a detour from many historical monuments, Jaar chose to construct a uniquely impactful experience for visitors, to help them connect with and understand their collective memory. Housed underground, only 10 people can enter at a time. Once inside, they experience one minute of full darkness, followed by the back wall slowly lighting up hundreds of silhouettes, growing from 0 to 100% in intensity over 90 seconds. Another 30 seconds of darkness follows, creating a strong after-image effect.

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