In October I was invited to speak at a data visualisation workshop organised by Rachel Jones of the Creative Industries KTN. The event was a showcase of interesting data visualisation practitioners as inspiration for the new Technology Strategy Board data exploration competition – launching at the beginning of 2014.
I was honoured to be selected as part of the evening’s line up of speakers, which ranged from artists like Michael Magruder Takeo to graphic designers like Information is Beautiful to more commercial practitioners such as Hal Bertram of Ito World.
I spoke about Elio Studio’s Creative Data initiative, which seeks to bring designers and scientists together to communicate data and research to the public through installations, exhibitions and creative learning programmes. I focused on The Butterfly Effect project as the pilot study for Creative Data, about the future of The Norfolk Broads.
It was super interesting to hear other speakers deliver their speedy Pecha Kucha formatted presentations and see what kind of work is going on in the art world, the academic world and the business world.
We saw that there’s been a lot of focus on maps as a default visualisation tool and that a lot of visualisation of data remains in a traditionally graphic space – often in graphs and sometimes overly complicated visuals which aren’t easily readable. There’s certainly room for more creativity and more engaging communications.
The most interesting work for me, unsurprisingly perhaps, were the examples of sculptural installations and public engagement work. I particularly enjoyed presentations from Rachel Jones of Active Ingredient and her project A Conversation Between Trees and Julie Freeman’s work on Translating Nature.
After seven months travelling around the UK documenting The Great Recovery project for the RSA and the TSB, then another month distilling all the collected content into a beautiful document, I’m delighted to say The Great Recovery report has been published.
All in all it has been a fascinating process, I’ve learned so much about manufacturing and design while working on this project and I have loved visiting every factory. It’s quite thrilling to see all my photographs, interviews and writing on the designer’s role in the circular economy brought together into such a good looking publication. Thomas Matthews did a fantastic job on the report layout design.
On June 4th, project directors Sophie Thomas and Nat Hunter launched the report at a reception in Parliament hosted by the APDIG, in conjunction with both the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group and the Associate Parliamentary Manufacturing Group.
Policy Connect and the Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group has now included the report in their ‘Ten of the Best: Design 2012/2013’ saying,
“The Great Recovery is an impressive case study in how design can contribute to solving some of the most complex challenges facing the economy and society.”
You can download the report here.
In October 2012 I started working with the co-directors of design at the RSA , Sophie Thomas and Nat Hunter, on The Great Recovery project as a design observer. This involved documenting workshops and visits to material recovery centres around the UK.
These events brought designers, manufacturers and policy makers together to explore issues, investigate innovation gaps and incubate new partnerships in the circular economy. It has been a fascinating experience all round, where we’ve learned so much about the materials economy and the systems design involved in recycling.
We visited some incredible places, a tin mine in Cornwall, a plastic bottle recycling factory, an e-waste facility, and even the Caterpillar Remanufacturing plant in Shrewesbury where we watched engines being repurposed to the quality of brand new engines.
My role involved building up a body of documentary content for the project using photography, process observation and participant interviews. I was then to distill this content into the Great Recovery report, working in collaboration with Sophie Thomas.