Taken apart

DECONSTRUCTING TO EXPLAIN.

Reality Photographed superbly by Adam Voorhes. http://www.voorhes.com

Illustrated instructions Assembly guides and parts diagrams are part of our everyday life. A note of caution: When this kind of thing is not done well, it can cause a nervous breakdown.

In pieces Walking around an exploded view is an experience. This VW Beetle installation, “Cosmic Thing,” is by Damion Ortega.

Blown-up Another gallery piece, “Cold Dark Matter” by Cornelius Parker. A garden shed and it’s contents was exploded (by the British Army), then the pieces were arranged and brightly lit from the inside. A frozen moment in time.

Motion A commercial for Lowe’s where the whole house comes apart. Click on the image to see the video. (It might take a little while to load.)

Cutaway And don’t forget this excellent book (from Gestalten) which has several exploded views. I featured it before: http://www.johngrimwade.com/blog/2016/11/17/cutaway-magic/

On Amazon: goo.gl/837SjK


Illustration by Nick Kaloterakis.

Subways (2)

USING THE SUBWAY MAP METAPHOR.

Map of the stars By Simon Patterson. Famous, or important, people are the stops. The lines are the categories, from engineers to comedians, and where they intersect, interesting associations occur. The title is a reference to astronomy. Patterson’s description: “…the tube stops can be seen as stars in a constellation, where you imagine the lines that connect the dots.” Detail below.

Web trends By Information Architects. https://ia.net

Detail.

Movie map The lines are genres. By David Honnorat.

Detail.

Submarine fiber-optic network Explained by the Oxford Internet Institute.

US highways Cameron Booth gives the U.S. road system the Harry Beck treatment.

Detail.

US rivers A waterway diagram by Theo Rindos.

Roman Roads Traveling around the Roman Empire, by Sasha Trubetskoy.

Looking for animals Find your favorite creatures in various subway maps.

https://www.animalsontheunderground.com

Subways (1)

MAPPING METRO SYSTEMS.


New York City Subway Map, 1972 by Massimo Vignelli.

This week’s posts follow on from a recent one about Harry Beck’s seminal Underground map: goo.gl/Fpn3Qk

New York design classics The Graphics Standards Manual (1970) designed by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda set the design parameters for modern New York subway signage. A reprinted version, originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign, is available here: https://standardsmanual.com/pages/shop (along with a few other gems).

Two years later, the schematic map (shown at the top of this post) was introduced, and there was a lot of criticism. For London’s map, Harry Beck had chosen diagrammatic clarity over geographical accuracy, but a similar approach by Vignelli did not go down well with some of the inhabitants of NYC. After substantial changes (not overseen by its creator), the design was dropped in 1979. However, in 2012, the Metropolitan Transit Authority asked Vignelli to design a similar version for its Weekender app.

NYC today More geographically-correct, less of a design system. I don’t love it, but I understand why it’s the way it is.

Tokyo

The Tokyo trains can get very crowded. However, there are people who’s job is to push everyone in. Click on the image below to see the video.

Paris

Moscow

Circular Max Roberts has redesigned several subway maps using a circular arrangement. Here are New York, London and Paris.

See more maps by Max Roberts here: http://www.tubemapcentral.com

Map or diagram? This animation of the Berlin subway first appeared on Reddit, and inspired others to make geographical comparisons with the diagrams of various cities. Some examples below.


By vinnivinnivinni.


By playhouse_animation.


By ninja.


By hlake.


By sweedfishoreo.

Subway world A subway-style map of cities with urban transit systems.

On the road

A LESS-THAN-SERIOUS REVIEW OF HIGHWAY SIGNS.

Almost everywhere we look there are (supposedly helpful) signs, but they often send an unclear message. This area of visual communication has plenty of room for improvement. In the example below, the sign is clearly in Penns Grove.

Some stop confusion.

Very precise speed restriction.

A bike collision could be imminent.

The British are very good at keeping secrets.

Almost Apple‘s Command symbol.

Sometimes there’s a barrage of information…

…or just too many arrows.

Two-way, indeed.

Not an encouraging sign, if you’re prone to car sickness.

I saw this one a lot when I lived in Queens.

The Guardian had a road sign quiz, and these were some of the options.
Below: Turn left for the 1980s. (The real meaning is Direction to nearest emergency phone.)

You’ve reached Egypt. (Detour.)

Bus mounting ramp ahead. (Buses, bikes and taxis only.)

Please use 3D glasses. (No overtaking.)

Fired caterpillars ahead. (Electrical overhead cable ahead.)

By the numbers A small town in California.

And finally… This sign is (helpfully) in both English and Welsh. Unfortunately, the Welsh section says, “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.”

Humanscale

DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE.*

Ergonomics “Humanscale” is a collection of three books and nine selectors with dials. They contain the detailed human measurements that designers need to create workspaces, furniture and products that are ergonomically sound. It was originally published in 1974 by Henry Dreyfuss Associates, and expanded the metrics of the original book, “The Measure of Man” (see “Origins” below). And now it’s being republished by IA Collaborative after a Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iacollaborative/reissue-of-humanscale

Inside the 1/2/3 booklet.

Some examples of possible applications.

Selector details.

Origins Henry Dreyfuss set the standard for visual ergonomic explanation with his book “The Measure of Man: Human Factors in Design” published in 1959. It contains 32 charts and two life-size posters (shown as one image below) designed by Dreyfuss and illustrated by Alvin Tilley. The two figures (nicknamed “Joe” and “Josephine”) represent the average American man and woman.

Below, the first edition cover.

The book was updated in 1993, and the title made more inclusive.

*The title of a 1955 Dreyfuss book.

Today

HISTORICAL EXAMPLES FROM ERIC BAKER’S COLUMN.

Once a week for several years (ending in 2010), Eric Baker had an inspiring column called “Today” that appeared on the DesignObserver site. It was a set of carefully selected historical design images. Sometimes on a theme, sometimes not. Anyway, I really looked forward to seeing the latest treasure trove of imagery. So in the spirit of looking back for inspiration to our illustrious past, here’s a selection of 50 examples from those posts. Many of these are infographically-inclined, but that (of course) is because of the person selecting them.

Invisible Netherlands

VISUALIZING THE UNSEEN.

This is a guest post by Frédérik Ruys, a data journalist who has worked on three seasons of a popular Dutch public television series.

“Invisible Netherlands” (2017) is the sequel to two seasons of “Netherlands From Above”. Those series had over a million viewers.

The aim of “Invisible Netherlands” was to recreate forgotten stories, or secret events, that shaped the country and its people. One such moment was a spectacular blowout (in 1965), during the early era of the search for natural gas. Using various animation techniques, and based on authentic data, the sequence brought that moment back to life, and put it into historical perspective.

The main challenge was the storytelling. To visually merge all the different datasets into one consistent story that could captivate a broad T.V. audience, and without simplifying the facts. As usual, I started by sketching, and searching for reliable data. Below, samples of borehole location and earthquake data.

The drilling site then, and now.

Despite all physical evidence having been erased (the entire installation disappeared deep into the ground), we were able to reconstruct a 3D model of the site with the help of an engineer from that period. This was created in Cinema 4D.

Meanwhile, we processed extensive datasets of all the boreholes ever drilled, all exploited gas fields, and all earthquakes that followed the exploitation. The main challenges: the sensitive nature of the subject, and the necessary collaboration with seismologists, the energy company and the Dutch government.
I worked with director Geert Rozinga to decide the voice-over and camera angles required. Then we briefed the British animation team, 422 South (http://422south.com), who spectacularly animated and rendered the entire sequence.

The 422 South animation. Click on the image to see the video.

Finally the animation was combined with the report that had been filmed on-site, and here’s the final result: https://vimeo.com/203995902.

But as always, there was a glitch. Shortly before broadcast, the editor pointed out that one earthquake in the North Sea changed position as the camera moved. You can see it moving in from the right-hand side here.

This effect was caused by the earthquake’s depth: 17.5 miles (28 km) below the surface. As this could be confusing for viewers, the earthquake (which occurred on September 7, 1986), was removed. And will be invisible for ever.

Outside the box

MAKING INFOGRAPHICS AND ILLUSTRATIONS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLASS.

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.”


And…
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!

 

Kraftwerk

INFOGRAPHICS FOR MUSIC.

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.”

“Autobahn.”

“Radioactivity”.

“Vitamin.”

“The Man-Machine”.

“Computer Love”.

“The Robots”.

“Numbers”.

“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

Underground

MAPPING THE “TUBE.”

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.