Outside the box


Weather An engaging prototype app by Sunny Park, designed while she was a student at SVA NYC (She’s now a UX designer at Microsoft). Sculpey clay stands in for ice cream.

Data viz For the Ablynx 2013 annual report, Soon (a studio based in Belgium) went out to the fields with sticks and colored ropes to visualize the data. They used black sand to make the backgrounds.

3D-printed Another Soon project. The Ablynx 2015 annual report.

Black cloud One day’s CO2 emissions made real by Ogilvy/Bejing.

Sarah Illenberger Creative use of everyday objects to make other everyday objects. Beautifully styled.

And paper-made illustration.

Educational challenge The number of students that dropped out of U.S. high school in 2012 averaged 857 per hour on every school day. The College Board visualized it by putting that number of desks around the Washington Monument.

Cardboard car Shannon Goff made this replica of a 1979 Lincoln Continental as a tribute to her grandfather (who owned one), and to her hometown: Detroit, the “Motor City.”

This is (incredibly) my 100th post, so to mark this earth-shattering occasion, here are a few “one-hundreds.”

I have a fake wad of $100 bills (with a belt clip) that I bought in a Halloween store. In case I want to look like I have some cash.

Neutra house numbers from Design Within Reach: goo.gl/gQ149C

Typeface by Sawdust: http://www.madebysawdust.co.uk

62.1 miles per hour.

Metrics Over 30,000 views of the blog so far. The most viewed post is “Tools of the trade”: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2017/01/09/tools-of-the-trade/

Thank you for reading the blog. I appreciate it. Happy Infographics!




Perhaps the closest thing to an infographic musical performance is a concert by the German electronic band, Kraftwerk (which means “power station”). Graphic visuals have always been an integral part of their shows, and now they’re in 3D. If you ever get a chance to go to a performance, I highly recommend it.

Above, an animation from “The Robots”. Below, my set of 3D glasses for a show at the United Palace Theater in New York City, April 2014. The numbers 1 to 8 refer to Kraftwerk’s eight classic albums. At selected venues, Kraftwerk play a complete album on each of eight separate nights. They used this format at MoMA (New York) in 2012, the Tate Modern (London) in 2013, and they’ve taken the iconic music/design experience to several other high-profile cultural venues around the world.

These photographs (by Jan Schwochow) are from a 3D performance at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, January 2015.
Below, “Aéro Dynamik.”




“The Man-Machine”.

“Computer Love”.

“The Robots”.


“Techno Pop”.

“Tour de France”.

This is all about the combination of music and visuals, so here’s a small clip from “Vitamin.” Click on the image to see the video.

And a segment from “The Robots.” Click on the image to see the video.

In May, “3-D The Catalogue” was released. It documents the shows of recent years. Available in several combinations of Blu-ray, DVD, CD, vinyl and a printed book. http://www.kraftwerk.com/catalogue/index-BLUray.html

A trailer for this set: goo.gl/8A5aGM



Harry Beck really started something. His elegant map of the London Underground (which is more of a diagram than a map) set the style of the modern subway guide. It’s designed to help people use the network. To show them clearly how to get from A to B, and make the correct connections. Beck aimed to strike a balance between a clear system diagram and the geography. This involved making some compromises with the distances between stations and their relative positions, and enlarging the center area where so many lines intersect. The first map printed in a large quantity (1933) is shown above. It was produced first as a folding, pocket-size map (shown here), and soon followed by a poster-size version. The design allowed for future expansion of the network.

The 1932 map (below) that preceded Beck’s was by F. H. Stingemore who designed the map from 1925 to 1932. The central area in the Stingemore map was slightly exaggerated and the outer stations were listed at the edges of the map. Beck’s redesign was a radical departure.

A rough drawing from 1931 shows Beck’s initial plan for his more diagrammatic map. He was an engineering draughtsman, not a graphic designer, so he looked at the project like an electrical circuit diagram.

A presentation version (1931) was rejected at first, but the following year was the basis for a test run of 500 copies. At this point, Beck was still using circles for most of the stations. He switched to tick marks in the 1933 version.

The current map is a lot more complicated with fare zones and additional subway lines.

The distortion from actual relationships to the diagrammatic map is shown in this animation. By Pham_Trinli.

In 2015, Transport for London released a more geographically-correct map that could be a real help for walkers, bikers etc. It was forced into the public area by a Freedom of Information request. Click on the image for a pdf version.

Earlier this month, Transport for London published a map for people who don’t like to be inside a tunnel, showing where the trains are actually underground. Despite the name of the system, 55% of it is above ground. Click on the image for a pdf version.

Icon invasion


Today is World Emoji Day. Why? Because that’s the date shown on Apple’s iCal emoji. The day (in 2002) that the calendar application was announced. Here’s the calendar emojis from Apple, Google and Twitter, which uses the date that it was founded.

Since they first appeared on Japanese phones in the late 1990s, emojis have risen to clearly become (numerically-speaking) number one in the world of visual communication. Billions are used every day. “Emoji” means “pictogram” in Japanese. Surprisingly, the connection to the English words “emotion”and “emoticon” is coincidental. There are 1,144 separate emoji components in Unicode 10, and many other emojis are composed by putting two or more together.

If you want to improve your emoji knowledge, Emojipedia is the place: https://emojipedia.org

It’s all happening in the world of cute little icons. There’s an emoji movie coming out next week.

(The Emoji Movie © Sony Pictures Entertainment)

The most popular emoji is “Tears of Joy.” Below are the Apple and Samsung versions.

We can already search with emojis, and now the big brands are ramping up their emoji-friendliness. These are for Coca-Cola and IKEA.

As the travel website, KAYAK stated: “Spelling things is so 2015.” The site can already be searched using these ten emojis to represent cities, and they’ve just had a competition to choose 15 more.

Truth Facts give their take on the way that things are going.

Nigel Holmes wrote an excellent post about emojis (and other developments in visual language) earlier this year: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2017/02/20/emojis-and-beyond/



The atomic age lasted through the 1950s and 1960s. It was a time of two opposite dynamics: there was the promise of unlimited power, and the threat of world destruction.

The dream Some examples of atomic optimism. Does the dog look worried?

Nuclear playtime
An atomic lab in your child’s bedroom? Why not?

5,000 miles per charge The 1958 Ford Nucleon was a prototype car that would be powered by a small nuclear reactor. Perhaps.

Built in Brussels for the 1958 World’s Fair, this is a very large model of the unit cell of an iron crystal (magnified 165 billion times). It’s 335 feet tall (102 meters).

(Photograph: Mike Cattell)

Inside the top sphere there’s a restaurant with a panoramic view of the city.

World War III
There was a very real worry that buttons might be pushed. Hence the fallout shelters all over the place.

You might want to build your own in the back garden.

It looks like fun.

Some light reading before bedtime.

Tempus fugit


Luxury clock The expensive Atmos 568 ($27,000+tax) tells the time, the month and the phase of the moon, and is powered by a gas-filled capsule. It’s close to perpetual motion, as just a one-degree temperature shift can drive it for two days. Designed by Marc Newson, who is part of Apple’s design team.

Sundial Often seen in gardens. Obviously not very effective on cloudy days. This one is indicating 3:15.

(Photograph © Antonio Ribeiro/123rf)

They are sometimes much larger and more elaborate, like this one in London. It was designed by Wendy Taylor, a sculptor.

(Photograph © Christian Mueller/123rf)

Of course, any tall object is potentially a gnomon (the center part of a sundial), and the Washington Monument is a good possibility. Some numbers on the ground are all that’s needed to convert it into a very large clock.

Or go smaller and get a sundial wristwatch: https://www.helios-sonnenuhren.de/en/helios-watch

Hourglass There’s something compelling about watching falling sand indicate the passing of time. No idea why.

(Photograph © stokkete/123rf)

Swiss simplicity This classic clock was designed in 1944 by Hans Hilfiker, who worked as an engineer for the Swiss Railway.

(Photograph: Daniel Sparing)

Personal time Juan Velasco, the infographics maestro, once described his watch as his favorite infographic. I’ve made it clear in previous posts that I love a good watch. I can’t afford this one, but I want it.

One year “The Present” tracks the seasons. Not sure why this is particularly helpful, but it looks good on the wall. “Oh look, we’re halfway through winter!” If you’re interested, you can get it here: goo.gl/qKdr9A

10,000 year clock The first prototype of “The Clock of the Long Now” is in London’s Science Museum. It’s eight-feet-tall (2.4 meters). The full-size clock will, in theory, be able to operate for 10,000 years, with proper maintenance. That 200-feet-tall (61 meters) version is being built inside a mountain in Texas on land owned by one of the project’s backers, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

(Photograph: Rolfe Horn)

The big picture An infographic that I made for “In Graphics” issue 5 contained my take on an old schoolroom favorite: Our entire history as if it happened over a 24-hour period.

The time section is shown below. Note how the dinosaurs were around a lot longer than we have been (so far).

See a preview of “In Graphics” issue 10 here: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2017/07/06/in-graphics-2/
Example spreads from the first nine issues are here: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2017/07/03/in-graphics-1/

In Graphics (2)


Jan Schwochow’s Infographics Group (http://infographics.group) are the team behind “In Graphics” magazine. The previous post had an example from each of the first nine issues: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2017/07/03/in-graphics-1/

Here are six spreads from the new issue (shown for the first time). It’s available at: https://store.ingraphics.info

All the images are © Infographics Group, Berlin.

Above, the cover. Below, the index.

Heartbeat comparison, from a 12-page feature. Click on the image for a larger version.

Berlin Wall history.

The Autobahn system.

The Doomsday Clock. From a 6-page feature.

Instruction manual pages. Click on the images for larger versions.

In a few weeks time, you’ll be able to buy this slipcase to hold all ten issues. It will be available here: https://store.ingraphics.info

In Graphics (1)


On Thursday, the tenth issue of “In Graphics” will be published, and it will be featured exclusively here. Since 2010, the magazine has been a brilliant showcase of information graphics. Frankly, it has always amazed me how this gets produced, and to such a high standard. All this hard work has led to numerous infographic awards.
“In Graphics” is the vision of Jan Schwochow, head of Infographics Group (formerly Golden Section Graphics), which is based in Berlin. It’s a magazine in which everything is explained visually. In my dream world, all publications are like this. The studio: http://infographics.group

Below, one spread from each of the first nine issues, chosen by Jan. He told me that it was a very difficult task to pick favorite examples from so many graphics. I can certainly understand that. The printed size of each spread is 18″ x 13″ (46 x 33 cm).

Issue 1. The Allianz Arena’s workforce. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 2. European colonialism. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 3. Speed and lifespan.

Issue 4. The London Olympic Stadium. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 5. Tarantino’s victims.

Issue 6. Airbus versus Boeing. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Issue 7. Inside the Nestlé company.

Issue 8. Light explained.

Issue 9. Fruit pips compared. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Buy the issues here: https://store.ingraphics.info

Next post: “In Graphics” Issue 10, an exclusive preview.

Painting by numbers


Years ago, before cellphones and computers, this was one of our pastimes. The current enthusiasm for adult coloring books seems to be closely related. Art made relatively easy using a simple system. It’s a low-stress activity with tangible results. Here are a couple of sets I purchased recently on eBay.

Mona Lisa (Shown above.) This one is on canvas for complete authenticity. Note the handy reference pic. Everything needed is here: A numbered keyline to follow, paintbrushes, and a set of acrylic paints with corresponding numbers. I need to start filling in the areas, but it looks quite challenging. The estimated value of the original painting is $1.5 billion. My Mona Lisa cost just $16.59 (with free shipping).

The Starry Night I’m going post-impressionist with this one.

Lines on a board, ready to become art. Presumably, this is not how Van Gogh planned the painting.

A detail. For areas with two numbers, the colors have to be mixed together. Fortunately, blending between the color areas is not suggested. Some sets that I had years ago (with oil-based paints) offered that additional task. The edges that were to get a smooth transition were indicated by dashed lines.

The required paints. Reeves has a numbered system that works across all their painting by numbers sets. No number one (lemon yellow) here.

In the gallery Andy Warhol’s 1962 “Do It Yourself” series is a tribute to the “painting by numbers” craze.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Two posts about In Graphics, a brilliant magazine where all the pages are infographics. Below, staff at Infographics Group in Berlin review proofs of the new issue (number ten).

Emergency symbols


Guemil is a pictogram initiative, developed by Rodrigo Ramírez, that is oriented towards risk and emergency situations. The aim is to create a set of icons that can be understood all over the world in a crisis context. Website: http://www.guemil.info/about-guemil/

The pictograms are packed into an open source font, which along with other information, can be downloaded directly from the site, or from GitHub: https://github.com/Guemil

International user testing is a very important part of the development, in order to measure performance with regard to meaning and cultural differences, You can evaluate the pictograms, and contribute to the process here:: http://www.test.guemil.info

A pdf about Guemil: http://www.guemil.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Guemil_demo_0.5b_long_jul2016.pdf

This project is part of the Design Network for Emergency Management (dnem.org), and the tests are a collaboration with the International Institute for Information Design. Guemil was shortlisted in the 2017 IIID Awards, in the Emergency category (http://iiidaward.net).

The name: In the Mapuche* language, guemil is a symbol (originally “ngümin” which means “design” or “borders”) that represents science and knowledge, as well as manufacturing and the art of transformation. It is also a symbol of the writing system.
* Indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and south-western Argentina.

Below, a guemil pattern.

Rodrigo Ramírez is a faculty member in the School of Design at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and Visiting Professor in the School of Design, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is also a partner in Frescotype, a digital type studio based in Santiago. http://www.frescotype.com