Design of Understanding 2014

Published by Tony Quinlan on

Last Friday was the 2014 Design of Understanding day – a packed room at St Brides Library off Fleet Street, organised by the redoubtable Max Gadney of After the flood.  He and I had come across each other in a hotel bar in Kigali, Rwanda when we were both working the GirlHub Rwanda office – me on narrative research, he on visualising geographically-based data from various data sources (and various quality standards…)

I managed to stay for the morning, before some bug that had been stewing since my return the previous week finally got the better of me and I made a dash for home and slept the rest of the day.  (I was particularly disappointed to miss the afternoon talks – the standard set by speakers in the morning had been high.)

  • Will Hudson, of It’s Nice That, was entertaining and thought-provoking around where the site (which I hadn’t come across before – I’m clearly mixing in other circles) had stemmed from and what some of the underlying philosophy is.
  • I followed, taking a topic I haven’t explicitly spoken about before – tracking approaches to Organisational Narrative over the years.  My slides are Download 001 A history of organisational storytelling final version, for anyone interested.  I don’t know how much sense they make without the audio, but they’re here all the same.
  • David Sheldon-Hicks, of Territory Studio, was next up – and fascinating.  Insight into how all those hundreds of screens on the bridge in Prometheus looked so effective and practical, while maintaining the futuristic, yet organic design sensibilities of the movie.
  • Andy Kirk was next of Visualising Data fame. I’ve followed Andy for a while, it was good to hear him in person at last. Amongst his claims to fame is how to tell stories with data visualisation – in some ways I use SenseMaker to visualise thousands of stories – and I need to find much, much better ways of doing it. [[UPDATE: Andy’s put his slides up here.]]
  • Wrapping up the morning was Jo Roach of MakieLab and customised dolls that are substantially more fun and practical than the toy industry standard. Her walk through the ups and down, challenges and surprises, of using 3D printing to produce customised toys, developing a specialist retail point and more was fascinating and fun.

Thanks to all – and to all the interesting conversations in the margin before natural forces took hold.  And a particular thank you to Max for organising what was a great event.

On my dash home, I was disappointed to note that the old pen shop that had been for years in a dingy little arcade at the southern entrance to Bush House has now disappeared as scaffolding and redevelopment envelopes the building.  I’d bought pens there for years – and my mother, as a nurse in the 60s, had done too.  A minor ending, but a sad one.