Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

22 JUNE, 2009

Brain Pickings Original: Typography of the SFMoMA

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Sub-cognitive art, or what the elevator and the women’s restroom have to do with aestheticism.

Here’s something a bit different — a Brain Pickings original, driven by my hybrid fascination with modern art and typography.

While at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art recently, I had a peculiar thought — like all museums, this is a space dedicated to giving art a place to live. But there’s also a meta-layer to the art experience that comes from the aesthetic and conceptual life of the space itself — the colors, the architecture, the subtle design touches.

These elements contribute to our experience of the art inside, but often operate below the surface of our cognitive awareness.

So I decided to bring one of those meta-elements to the forefront of attention — the typography used inside the museum, on anything from exhibition signage to elevator buttons to restroom signs.

Explore the full set on Flickr. Then, next time you’re in a public art space, consider the meta-aestheticism that it oozes and how it affects your experience.

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15 JUNE, 2009

Animation Spotlight: The Chimney Sweep

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What a paper airplane has to do with the quiet art of being human.

It’s video week on Brain Pickings, and we’re launching with The Chimney Sweep, a beautiful stop-motion animation in every sense of the word — beautifully written, beautifully art-directed, beautifully shot.

It isn’t flashy. There are no special effects or peppy indie music score. It’s quiet and simple and incredibly, touchingly human.

Put your headphones on to fully experience the subtle yet rich soundscape — it’s part of the film’s quiet magic.

The Chimney Sweep is the final-year work of UK art student Joseph Mann — whose feet are firmly planted in our up-and-coming talent to watch list.

09 JUNE, 2009

In-Formed: Physical Objects as Data Visualization

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The other side of our silver platter, or what dinnerware and Africa have in common.

Data visualization is of special stature around here and makes frequent cameos — usually in the form of beautifully designed infographics or high-tech jaw-droppers. But designer Nadeem Haidary is creating a form of data viz so unorthodox and unexpected it constitutes its own genre — physical objects modified to visualize statistics about the activities they’re involved in.

The project, titled In-Formed, is part data visualization, part industrial design, part social awareness, exposing little-known facts designed to effect actual behavioral change by inspiring us to be a bit less wasteful.

It consists of three case studies, each embedding contextually relevant information into everyday objects related to the data.

Each prong represents the per-capita countries caloric intake of a different country. Each fork depicts the United States and three other countries ordered alphabetically.

[Statistics] may be striking when you first read them, but without context or placement in the physical world, they are rarely remembered and rarely change people’s behavior. What if this kind of information crawled off the page and seeped into the products that surround us?

The surface area of each of plate is proportionate to the food consumption in the region depicted on the plate.

There’s something incredibly powerful about infusing data with the physical reality it inhabits — an idea arguably pioneered by the incredible Chris Jordan, whom we’ve featured multiple times. It breeds a kind of visceral mindfulness missing from more traditional forms of data visualization — and, hopefully, that’s what makes the leap from awareness to action.

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