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  • Tony Pritchard 3:03 pm on February 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 8vo, , , , Baumann and Baumann, Bayer, Cassandre, , , Frans Lieshout, Irma Boon, , Karel Martens, Moholy-Nagy, North Design, , Odermatt and Tissi, , , , Piet Zwart, Russell Mills, , Total Design, Tschichold, , Vaughan Oliver, Why Not Associates, Willi Kunz, , Wolfgang Weingart   

    20th Century Typography 

    This video is a highly selective review of 20th Century Typography. The main hypothesis is that the various movements and designers are in a continuum of development. I see this as evolutionary rather than a series of revolutions. I encourage viewers to look analytically at the examples and derive the key lessons to apply in their own work.

  • Tony Pritchard 3:48 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 8vo, Anthony Froshaug, Baseline Magazine, , Braun, Brian Grimley, Erco, Esprit, Farrow, Foster and Partners Architects, Fred Lambert, Hans Dieter Reichert, , , , , London 2012 Olympics, , Lufthansa, Marie and Otto Neurath, Markus Rathgeb, , Mexico Olympics, Munich Olympics 1972, North, Olympics, , Phaidon, , Rolf Muller, Rotis, Royal College of Art, , Tokyo Olympics, , Typos Magazine, Ulm Design School, Wolf Olins   

    Munich ’72 Design Legacy Symposium Review 

    Munich ’72 Design Legacy Symposium
    University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury, Kent, UK
    Friday 29 June 2012

    The conference was opened by Kerstin Mey who set the context for the symposium and related exhibition. She reminded us that despite the tragedy perpetrated by the terrorist act against the Israeli athletes, the Munich 1972 Olympics saw the emergence of a ‘trailblazing design’ approach to all aspects of the Olympic visual communication. The Tokyo and Mexico City Olympic games preceding this one had set in motion an expectation that the visual impact of such events should be strong and memorable. For the graphic design teams involved, the design of the Olympic games publicity and information would provide a challenge beyond their known professional experience. These designs would establish what Mey called ‘a correspondence between the past and the present’. Comparisons between 2012 and 1972 would inevitably be made. Kerstin Mey then introduced Ian McLaren who had worked as a member of the Munich Design Team with Otl Aicher and who McLaren referred to as ‘The Boss’.

    Ian McLaren and David Nelson (Foster and Partners) in conversation
    After a brief introduction from Ian McLaren the first of two films were presented to the symposium. This keynote session showed Ian McLaren in conversation with David Nelson of Foster and Partners Architects. Nelson spoke of many anecdotes related to Otl Aicher suggesting he took a philosophical outlook and was ‘bigger than his base subject’. Foster would often consult with Aicher to discuss ideas in the round – ideas for how signage systems may work or lighting or the floors. Century Tower (Tokyo) and the Sainsbury Centre (UK) were two schemes in particular that Aicher contributed his observations. When discussing the relationship between elements Aicher would talk in terms of ‘intelligent geometry’ suggesting a natural logic to the resolution of architectural features. One of the more provocative comments related to the choice of a certain red for the Bilbao Metro scheme. This was to be the ‘red of a 25 year old woman’ perhaps suggesting an age that is young enough to wear such a colour but old enough to wear it with style. Bilbao exhibited the aspect of intelligent geometry Aicher favoured along with exposed engineering and Aicher’s font Rotis (developed in 1988) for the signage.

    Hans Dieter Reichert, Baseline Magazine
    Hans Dieter Reichert came to England in 1984 and, inspired by the sparse black and white Boilerhouse Project, enrolled on the Media and Production Design course at the London College of Printing (now Communication). He was surprised to learn more about German design culture here in the UK than he had in his home country. He was taught by Anthony Froshaug and Brian Grimley who instilled in him a love of the modular in design. He also began to understand that design was a combination of emotion and thought. It was in London that his appreciation of Otl Aicher and the Ulm school took hold. Reichert showed a number of images of Aicher’s design office, which was suspended above the ground with a staircase ascending up through the floor. There was a perfect mown path leading from the road to the office. It was whilst mowing his estate that Aicher reversed into the road and collided with a motorbike, which prematurely ended his life.

    Aicher had developed a typographic identity for ERCO that not only expressed visually the idea of a lighting company but a coherent brand imbued with ‘soul and spirit’. Aicher saw ‘typography as a servant and not an art form’. He combined diagrams and drawings with typography in a structure that brought all elements (including space) into a formal yet harmonious relationship. The naming of commercial catalogues and books he designed encompassed a philosophical approach. Titles such as Entry/Exit not only spoke of functional portals but a reflection on deeper themes. An illustration of a hand and a grip suggested notions of affordance.

    Reichert spoke about the Phaidon book project on Aicher. This began life as the subject of a PhD by Markus Rathgeb entitled ‘Otl Aicher: Design as a Method of Action’. As a PhD, the project was not publishable – Reichert championed its cause with Phaidon and managed to help convert Rathgeb’s text into the first authoritative monograph on Aicher. The publication covered Aicher’s work with Braun, Lufthansa, Munich 1972 Olympics and the Ulm school. Aicher saw design’s context in terms of the environments it would be seen. He saw design as a servant to society and believed in the philosophy of teamwork over the valorisation of the individual designer – the antithesis of what would become the attitude in 1980s Britain. Aicher and his team had a complete understanding of the nuances of the design process. The use of grid structures appeared as if to be, what the design group 8vo would later call, visual engineering.

    Ian McLaren and the Ulm School
    Ian McLaren was studying at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts (now London College of Communication) between 1957 and 1960 at the Back Hill and Stamford Street sites. Here he met and was taught by the distinguished designer and author Richard Hollis. McLaren was looking to further his studies and Hollis recommended the Ulm school in Germany. McLaren had been influenced also by the teaching of Froshaug and had a taste for the modern design emanating from continental Europe. At the same time, Britain, in the form of the Royal College of Art, seemed to be retrospect in its attitude with an inclination towards craft and artists such as Edward Bawden. On his return to London, McLaren began to teach at Ravensbourne. It was whist at Ravensbourne that a call came through from his Ulm classmate Rolf Müller enquiring after his interest in an upcoming job – the Munich 1972 Olympics. McLaren knew of Aicher’s extraordinary ability ‘to persuade clients to go beyond the original intention’ of the job. It was his modus operandi to be proactive with clients. Aicher had gained notoriety through Lufthansa prior to 1972 and with Erco after the Munich Olympics – he’d managed to ‘nurse’ additional books out of these clients. He saw the format of the book as a method of clarifying thoughts about the identity of a company. The titles of these books extended the philosophy of the purpose of the company – identity was ‘more than design’. Ulm had proven to be a hot house of thinking whose influence extended beyond the school’s walls. Reichert and McLaren mused upon the educational differences between the German and UK based approach. Germany was seen as embracing psychology, language and subjects surrounding the discipline. The UK was perceived as being narrow and with students being left to find out for themselves (was this a misunderstanding of the independent learner and the importance of self-direction?). Reichert and McLaren warmed to the notion that graphic design had a relationship to a broader society and was not about individual artistic expression. Graphic design was seen as a subject that should be integrated into an overall service – not something that is imposed or seen in isolation.

    McLaren spoke about the handmade nature of the Munich posters. Much of what is assumed to be a photographic technique was painstakingly artworked by hand. This provoked discussion around one of the key differences between 1972 and 2012. Pre-digital era designers would have to trust to their hand far more. Design was more of a physical activity. As part of the Munich 72 Legacy project an exhibition was mounted. Hans Dieter Reichert worked with current students to mount the exhibition and paint onto the walls the supporting graphics.

    Visitors to the exhibition were hitherto unaware of the trials and tribulations the students went through with this new experience of working with their hands, at actual size, in a real three dimensional environment. Even hanging pictures at a consistent height provided a challenge. It was good to hear that the mounting of the exhibition had provided an opportunity for young designers to learn from an older generation. Both generations acknowledged that it was the hand that linked the analogue and digital worlds. Aicher’s own development had been influenced by the students and staff who surrounded him at Ulm. At Ulm Albers, Müller-Brockmann and Bauhaus influences could be encountered. He was also influenced by an attendant philosophy of clarity, simplicity and minimalism. McLaren stated that Aicher’s exposure to Albers’ attitude towards colour influenced the colour application used in the Munich Olympics scheme.

    Aicher developed the notion of the book as a format for exploration. The structure and wayfinding nature of the book (with chapters) enabled him to break down a company’s structure and consider its identity.

    Aicher and ERCO
    This part of the symposium was a video interview between Ian McLaren and Klaus J Maack who had previously been a director at ERCO. ERCO is a company that specialises in architectural lighting. Under the design influence of Aicher, ERCO adopted a grid-based scheme with Helvetica as the corporate typeface. Later ERCO was to adopt Rotis as its headline font. The flavour of ERCO’s visual presence was infused by a particular approach to the photography – the perfect medium for evoking the nature of light. The ERCO identity was informed by the approach that had been taken with the Munich Olympics (and by Aicher’s work with Lufthansa prior to 1972 that Maack had been impressed by). The Olympic identity adopted a ‘sunshine’ motif and the Univers typeface which was light and open. Another strong element of the Olympic visual strategy was the use of colour bars within the cultural series of posters evoking the nature of the German landscape. The bars were use to differentiate this series from the sports posters.  The idea of what the Olympics could represent through its graphic representation had been growing from the previous Tokyo and Mexico Olympic schemes. The pictographic ‘matchstick men’ had grown from 21 symbols to 180 symbols. ERCO adopted the development of these symbols and eventually they amounted to 900 in total. The cartography (mapping) was another impressive achievement of the Munich games. Posters were presented on panels that were at 90 degrees angles this allowed for colour combinations to be carefully considered and contrasted from one poster to the other. The ‘posterised’ images with their grain effect were largely done by hand requiring extensive and painstaking hand retouching. The cultural posters used the distinctive banding with superimposed pictorial imagery. These posters were to omit the colour black. There was one controversial exception to this – on the Folklore poster McLaren included black eyes. An argument broke out for which Aicher uncharacteristically stepped in to diffuse the situation ruling in favour of this exception. There were further issues regarding the use of English, an Italian from Brooklyn favouring Americanisms and McLaren holding the flag for pure English. Again McLaren’s view won out.

    Tony Brook, Spin: Souvenirs and Studio Culture
    Tony Brook began by indicating one specific influence Aicher had on his own studio (Spin). Brook has adopted Aicher’s studio psychology of no separate rooms and no private conversations – nothing is hidden. For Brook, as with Aicher, the sign of a healthy studio culture is one where the design of the space promotes openness. For Brook there is little room for the hierarchy of status – this is a refreshingly honest approach against the backdrop of a title obsessed design and design education ethos. Brook made reference to and commended the philosophical writings of Aicher and in particular ‘The World as Design’. He cited Aicher as someone who didn’t take the mere title or qualification of someone too seriously. You were either a graphic designer or not. In the 1980s, titles within the profession and design education proliferated. It was no longer enough to be a designer you had to be a ‘middle weight designer’. Within higher education a new strata of management positions have promoted those with an ambition for status without much subject or teaching credibility. They have a worrying amount of power over a discipline and profession they seem to have little regard for. Brook has no time for this nonsense: ‘are you a designer or not?’. Anyone who puts ‘rank before responsibility’ (and there are plenty career minded people who do) should be approached with some caution as to their real motivation in life. In the past subject specialists such as FHK Henrion and Tom Eckersley ran departments that they had some subject and business knowledge of. Eckersley insisted on interviewing all staff and students who applied to join the department. FHK Henrion created courses that were fit for purpose, relevant and based on his lifetime of industry experience. All staff had to have subject credibility. Fred Lambert, educator, editor of Typos and typeface designer proposed an all staff exhibition of work entitled ‘Exposé’. How many of us would fare under the critical treatment of Lambert’s suggestion? Although the 1980s may have seen the rise of the self-important celebrity designer, there were those that resisted such hollow vanities. The design department at Esprit produced business cards with no job titles – ‘it was hoped that this might serve to provoke thinking about the nature of the work one did rather than the status that titles often convey’. Forty years on, the efforts of the Munich designers to prioritise up-to-date and correct information over their own talent is a salutary reminder to a new generation of designers in 2012. Again Mason Wells’ comment that there is no room for the ‘arrogance of youth’ in design rings true. Brook continued on a lighter note to provide the audience with a historical overview of the ‘below the line’ Olympic souvenirs – beer mats, bottle tops, matchboxes and bathrobes all available for the collector of Olympic paraphernalia. The most notable of the Munich souvenirs was the dachshund mascot, Waldi. And the lucky winner of the Munich Olympic themed bedroom is…Tony Brook’s own daughter – lucky girl!

    Lucienne Roberts: When Lucie met Otl
    Lucie set about establishing her connections to Otl Aicher via a projected wall of visual symbols, which grew in number as she developed her historical overview. Lucie was very much influenced initially by her father’s involvement in design. For Ray Roberts, design was more than packaging the post-war burgeoning boom in capitalism. Design could be a force for good and typography embodied literacy as power. Lucie’s mum was from Vienna where Marie and Otto Neurath developed their Isotype series. Although not directly linked, Lucie made a mental connection between the Isotype scheme and the pictographic language of successive Olympic games. The Munich pictographic scheme was developed by Gerhard Joksch, based on the Tokyo symbols and the sculptor’s armature figure. Through exposure to the Bauhaus and Ulm schools amongst other influences, which also included the British designer and historian Richard Hollis, Lucie developed a taste for the Modernist approach in her own work. The systematised use of typography on a backdrop of modular grid structures and a rationalised use of colour permeated her early work. This wasn’t applied in a dogmatic fashion rather it was tailored ‘in support of the material of others’. There was also the concern for the visual environment and awareness that design could have a secondary role – that of public art, and the street had the potential to be a museum of information.

    Mason Wells: Work as Life
    Wells provided us with an overview of his development as a designer through various agencies who were known for their appreciation of a certain type of Modernism. Wells had nurtured his taste for Modernist artefacts through his time at Cartlidge Levene, Farrow and North and had the opportunity to put into practice this inherited knowledge. An image of Aicher cycling around the then new Olympic track sparked in Wells the notion of immersing yourself in your work. Design was something that didn’t constrain you to the usual 9-5 job – ‘The World is Design’. Whilst Bibliothéque was in its formative period, Wells had the opportunity to acquire a collection of Munich 72 printed items. So inspired by this acquisition, his partner Jonathon Jeffrey, suggested that an exhibition was the logical conclusion. Mason spoke of Aicher as a conduit for the success of his clients. The books that he’d produce with his clients were a method of recording research and design philosophy in print and making this manifest for the benefit of others.

    Panel Discussion
    The contrast in German and British standards within design education had been raised previously as a topic for discussion. Inevitably with the composition of this panel (McLaren, Reichert, Roberts, Wells and Brook – all who have experience of the profession and education), it would emerge again. Concern was raised over the undefined notions of what UK students and educators see as ‘creativity’. Wells and Brooks encouraged a more holistic view where the technical and creative are considered in equal measures. Brook in particular reflected upon his company’s increase in employment of non-UK designers in recent years. Could there be something deficient in current UK design education? With all the ‘advances’ in quality assurance, learning and teaching theory and insightful management what could possibly have gone wrong? Perhaps there are lessons from the past that could be applied to the future – perhaps there are still principles worth adhering to. There are some students and educators who do recognise this. Each year high standards are maintained through the annual International Society of Typographic Designers’ (ISTD) student assessment. There were a number of ISTD members and educators in the audience who will reflect upon these thoughts. Unfortunately there were few students in attendance, possibly because it was the end of term, possibly because the venue was outside of London, but this was disappointing all the same.

    There was discussion around whether the graphic scheme for 2012 developed by Wolff Olins was indeed a worthy effort in terms of the legacy of past design. Many thought it had suffered from the ‘design by committee’ approach mixed up with a rather middle-aged view of what ‘designing for the kids’ meant. Concern was expressed as to whether, still in the UK, there is a lack of respect for the designers’ role and the value of design. The panel overall thought the current graphic scheme was rather conservative and lacking in the role of chance. It is possible to combine the necessary order that information design requires with a sense of humanity that communication demands. The Munich Olympic graphic scheme will perhaps be remembered for engaging the spirit through its exuberant imagery and informing through a controlled system of typography. The stubbornness of Aicher in maintaining a high and consistent standard of design with his team has earned the respect of subsequent practitioners. The scheme established 40 years ago has proven to have enduring appeal and acts as a key reference point for the future.

    Some of my students made a trip to see the related exhibition and commemorated their day with a poster design celebrating the food-based joys of being a tourist. The first image is by Henrietta Ross and the second by Sharon Mah.


    • Baseline 5:30 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Pretty accurate Tony. I am glad that we got the symposium and exhibition together. The students enjoyed the experience of helping to create the wall graphics and the organisation of the hanging of the exhbition itself. Thanks for your blog. HDR

  • Tony Pritchard 11:24 am on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 8vo, Boag Associates, Books, , Derek Birdsall, Forms, , Magazines, , Newspapers, , Posters, , Tables,   

    Information Encounters Part 2: Print 

    Printing is a mechanical process by which an image (text or pictorial) is transferred onto a substrate (most commonly paper). It is a method of reproducing an image many times for distribution. Printing can occur in many formats primarily relating to a particular function: books, magazines, posters, brochures, newspapers, reports, forms, maps, ballots, instructions, packaging, timetables, manuals, guides, dictionaries, statistical presentations, telephone directories, encyclopedias, business stationery and catalogues.
    The illustration is a road map designed by Joel Katz that reads both ways

    The end of print?
    Print still persists in a digital age despite the existence of more efficient ways of storing information. Proclamations of ‘the end of print’ have often been declared within the very medium of print. One medium does not necessarily supersede and replace another. Radio, television, print, the Internet and exhibition environments co-exist as equally valid venues for information. There is more to the medium of print than purely a means of storing and conveying information. Items such as books have an object quality – they are tactile artefacts with presence and enhance the experience of information.

    ‘Escaping Flatland’
    In the introduction to ‘Envisioning Information’ Edward Tufte poses the following question to information designers. ‘The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?’ Tufte is challenging designers to escape the flatland of print, and expose the power of what Philip Morrison has called the ‘cognitive art’ of diagrams, maps and charts.

    The theory of data graphics
    Edward Tufte suggests that ink should be dedicated to the essential elements conveying data. Redundant ink is that which can be erased without loss of data. Ink is often used to ‘enhance’ the data and make it more visually appealing but it shouldn’t impede the communication of the data. Data-ink ratios can be calculated by subtracting redundant ink from the total area of ink used.

    Form design
    Forms are often the means by which people apply for an entitlement. Forms that use clear and accessible language and minimise visual complexity will appear more approachable and enable the rights of the people in most need. The use of structure, rules, colour and typography should be employed to enable the user access to information and not as decoration. Colour and tints can be used to clarify various sections of a form. Rules can be employed to link related entries and create subdivisions between different information. A grid structure can bring order and rationalise the number of alignments. Typography should be used to clarify meaning and provide emphasis to key parts of the information.
    The illustration is of a redesigned invoice by Boag Associates for the British Royal Mail. Since the redesign payment speed and customer satisfaction have improved with reduced helpline calls.

    Information that is compared within rows or columns is set as a table. Cross rules help guide the eye horizontally across a series of related information. Down rules are better for situations where there is a stronger need to compare data vertically. The use of both cross and down rules can inadvertently focus attention on the resulting net-like structure and detract from the presented information. The use of two rule weights, one heavier than the other, is useful when making clear divisions within the same table.

    In their book ‘Up Against the Wall’ Ian Noble and Russell Bestley assess the importance of the poster as a unique and enduring form of printed information.  ‘From the agitational and political to the promotional, persuasive and informational, the poster in all its forms has persisted as a vehicle for the very public dissemination of ideas, information and opinion’. In 1989 the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Holland appointed 8vo to design their posters. The only information that would appear on each poster would be the exhibition title, the date and the museum name. A singular image was selected for each poster. Type and image were fused together through what 8vo described as ‘visual engineering’. One was not subservient to the other; both served the purpose of attracting attention and imparting information. The posters had to be clear and legible from a distance this meant working with constraints such as minimum type sizes. Letter and word space were reduced to allow for an increase in size.
    The illustration is of a poster designed by 8vo for the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen

    It has been argued that in an age of instant information newspapers principally inform opinion rather than provide news. At the end of the 1980s, David Hillman of Pentagram redesigned the UK newspaper, The Guardian. The re-design was more than just a make over – it influenced the quality and tone of the paper’s editorial stance and how it was perceived by its readership. Newspapers had changed little since the 1920s. The advent of new technologies during the 1980s revolutionised the production of news information. The designers set out five criteria for the design to meet: it had to be ‘readable, well-organised, clean, simple to put together, and distinctive’. For Hillman ‘readability is a matter of respecting the way the eye moves around a page: it starts top left and works down and across’. Space is highly controlled and at a premium. A newspaper has to contain a lot of information and there is little room for excessive white space. The information designer sets the parameters for the design: the grid, a masthead, typefaces, captions and use of pictures. Beyond this the sub-editors, who take control and work to tight deadlines, are more concerned with fitting words and images into limited space. The Guardian originally employed a highly flexible 24-column grid structure, which allowed for eight and six-column structures to co-exist enabling the change of pace that keeps a reader interested. The change in grid differentiates between types of information such as news, features, finance and comment. Justified text is a convention of newspapers. The use of a range left, ragged right setting signals a less formal attitude for a different type of information.
    The illustration is of David Hillman’s original redesign for The Guardian

    Publication design: books
    Information within books is structured in a linear sequence from front cover through the preliminary pages, contents page, chapters, sections and index. The contents page and index act as key reference points for locating information. Pages contain type, photographs, illustrations and graphics that are brought into a coherent structure through a grid. Headings and subheadings indicate a hierarchy within the text and act as milestones measuring progress through the information. Colour and graphic devices are often employed to create clear divisions within the page. Colour coded sections referenced into the contents page help reinforce navigation through a publication. Page numbers, running foots or heads help locate the reader within a section. Derek Birdsall, ‘the doyen of British book designers’ describes designing a book as ‘a process of discovery’ in which you put yourself in the ‘position of the reader’. Birdsall suggests that, ‘the design is not inflicted on the content – it is derived from it’. We visually ‘read’ pages before reading the words. Techniques to convert browsers to readers include: bold or large headings often in colour; large introductory paragraphs; pull-out quotes; special case studies on tinted panels add further context; and key information presented in bullet point lists.
    The illustration is from Notes on Book Design by Derek Birdsall and shows his redesign of the Church of England’s Common Prayer Book

    Publication design: magazines
    Magazines are published on an ongoing basis. As such the design specifications set down have to encapsulate eventualities that may occur in future issues. There is a need to establish a firm identity but there is also the necessity for change in order to sustain interest. The grid structure should allow a high degree of flexibility, capable of handling diverse elements whilst maintaining and endorsing the personality of the magazine.
    The illustration is from an article on Richard Hollis published in Eye Magazine

    United States ballot design
    In the United States, over 4000 district counties separately ‘design’ the form voters use to elect a candidate to arguably the most powerful position in the world. Jessie Scanlon, a contributing editor to Wired, points out that ‘ballots aren’t designed by a designer…instead, county officials oversee their production, and the ballots are put together according to each state’s election code…by people who have no idea how to use graphic design to convey information’. The Californian election code abandons an alphabetic ordering of the 133 candidates in favour of random order. Whilst this may seem fair, Scanlon describes this as ‘information design insanity’ and suggested a rotation ‘through the trusty A-Z from district to district…[would] ensure no one candidate benefited from being at the top of the list and also that no frustrated voter gave up on finding the name they were looking for’. The election for the President of the United States in 2000 was surrounded by controversy regarding the design of the Palm Beach County voting ballot. Republican George W Bush eventually triumphed over the Democratic candidate Al Gore in a very close presidential race. Some declared that the confusing design of the ballot had decided the presidency. The design required voters to punch out a hole next to their preferred candidate. The printed circular guide for hole punching was out of alignment with the names of the candidates. Interviews with voters subsequently revealed that they had felt confused by the design. Some had punched the wrong hole or had assumed that they had to punch two holes, one for president and one for vice president. 19000 ballots were found to have had two holes punched and discounted as spoilt votes. The official who was responsible for the ballot had sent out samples for comment and no one responded. Usability testing indicates testing by using and not just looking. The instructions for use read: ‘…they are to punch the hole next to the arrow next to the number next to the candidate they wish to vote for’. By asking a sample of people to perform the task any difficulties in comprehension would have been revealed.
    The illustration shows the confusion caused by an ill-designed ballot paper

    Maps, charts and diagrams

    Dr John Snow and the London cholera epidemic of 1854
    During the first two weeks of September 1854 an epidemic broke out in central London that claimed 500 lives. A number of the deaths were located at the junction between Broad Street and Cambridge Street. This was also the site of a public well where people would draw up water. Dr John Snow acquired the records of 83 deaths in the area and plotted them on a map. By doing so Snow had taken quantitative data and made it visible. By visualising information Snow revealed that all but 10 of the 83 deaths were within close vicinity of the Broad Street pump. He then set about explaining the anomalies. Snow alerted the authorities, who intervened by removing the pump handle thus disabling its function. Some have attributed this act as the decisive moment in the termination of the epidemic. Snow had established the link between the transmission of the epidemic and impure water

    The Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986
    In January 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded after take off, killing all seven astronauts. The cause of the explosion was linked to two defective sealing rubber O-rings that allowed inflammable liquid to leak and catch fire. Various data had been collected on previous missions including: date of launch, temperature, wind speed and O-ring damage. The data was displayed according to launch dates obscuring the connection between temperature and O-ring damage. The visual representation of the data, which also incorporated a graphic code, focused attention on its appearance rather than revealing its meaning. Edward Tufte has reassessed the data and maintains that a scatter-plot graph that maps O-ring damage against temperature clearly demonstrates the link between the two. The colder the temperature the more O-ring damage is likely to occur. Challenger was launched on the coldest ever launch date. Had this information been conclusively demonstrated, using appropriate and effective visual means, the decision to launch Challenger could have been postponed and the lives of those seven astronauts saved.

    Accessible information
    The Royal National Institute for the Blind has produced clear print guidelines for making information accessible through design. There are two million people in the UK with a sight problem. Making information available in an accessible way to people with a visual impairment enables them, as citizens with equal rights, to make decisions and lead independent lives. There is legislation under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) that requires compliance from public bodies. The act aims to bring to an end the discrimination disabled people can face in their daily life.

    Envisioning Information, Edward Tufte
    Notes on Book Design, Derek Birdsall
    Magazine Design, William Owen
    Boag Associates Website
    Royal National Institute for the Blind Website (Clear Print Guidelines)
    Directgov Website (DDA)

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