Design History: Economic Trends

Ticker Tape

  • Stock Ticker
    • invented by Edward Calahan in 1860s
    • used Morse code, evolved from telegraph technology
    • makes “ticking” noise as it works
  • Edison’s Telegraph Printer
    • 1867
    • printed alphanumeric numbers, readable text
    • by 1880s, ~1000 stock tickers installed in offices of New York bankers
  • 1970s
    • stock price boards, then magnetic tape and computer terminals

  • other uses for ticker tape
    • sports scores from umpire, to announcer box, to man updating scoreboard manually
    • crop trading and selling

Bloomberg Terminal

  • 325,000 subscribers for 60 billion pieces of info from the market a day
    • accurate color scheme, concise and useful charts, clear labeling
    • less white space for more information
  • Precursors:
    • Quotron, 1960: electronic stock market prices vs. ticker tape, no transactional system or analysis
  • Blooberg revolutionized data analysis:
    • helpful shortcuts for keyboard when users were computer novices
    • chat feature that keeps no record of conversations
    • hired a separate research team to crunch the numbers and deliver analysis
    • speed of information updating shocked traders
  • Open source software are making data more accessible
    • newest challenger Symphony
    • main feature challengers don’t have: private chat in enclosed network

Pujo “Money Trust” Report

  • 1912 special Senate subcommittee headed by Head of House Banking and Currency Committee, Arsene P. Pujo
    • thought a small “money trust” was controlling nation’s finances
    • concluded groups of financial backers were abusing power
  • First major presentation of interlocking directorates controlling flow of money
    • precise relationship of size of banks (size of circle)
    • used a metaphor of an octopus or spider web


  • Bar Chart: Exports and Imports of Scotland

    • used to show data from one year by country because of a lack of historical data precedent
  • Pie Chart: Statistical Breviary

    • shows extent of population of revenues of Europe’s principle nations
  • Line Chart: Exports and Imports of Denmark and Norway


  • Isotype
    • clear, scientific expression of pictorial language
    • international system of typographic picture education

  • Xilography
    • wood carving of the negative and coating with ink
  • Munich Olympics 1972
    • in similar style
  • Graphic Symbols
    • helpful for international communication; navigation of foreign land
    • iconography is a scientific process of sociological and psychological commonalities that bonds all beings.
  • Tenets of Design
    • A: Serialization — placing many icons next to each other to show the extent of the whole
    • B. Iconicity — simplicity is abstraction
    • C: Clarity — must be read from a distance, gestalt must read
    • D: Consistency — same symbols at same size allow comparison
    • E: Color — limited color, color shows difference in category


Design History: Timelines

Strom der Zeiten (1804)

  • Fredrich Strass, German
  • “Rivers of Time”
  • metaphor of “liquidity” of time
  • Creation at top, but does not start with Biblical time
  • Asian empires on the right, uninterrupted
  • Roman Empire, takes up much of the middle of the graph
  • English translation used much bolder colors, but gained more popularity

Synchronological Chart of History

  • Sebastian C. Adams, 1871
    • influential educator
  • 23 ft long
  • commercial illustrations
  • first titled “Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern, and Biblical History”
  • chromolithography = affordable for middle class at the time
  • time calculated based on Christian Church’s estimate of event of Creation
  • Streams represent Nations/Countries; width represents power of nation

Ladder of Divine, Catholic Ladder

  • late 12th century icon at St. Catherine’s Monastery (now in Egypt)
  • based on the theological teachings of John Climacus, John of the Ladder
  • metaphor of ladder connecting Earth to the Heavens
  • Catholic Ladder
    • Francois Norbert Blanchet and Modest Demers, 1840
    • pictogram system to teach Christian history and beliefs to mixture of Native American cultures
    • combination of ladder metaphor in Christianity, and Native American tradition of time representation on a stick
    • read bottom to top (like ascension)
    • protestant divide represented as withering branch
  • Protestant Ladder
    • Henry and Eliza Spalding 1845 in reaction
    • controversial and reactionary
    • Pope pictured as falling to Hell; Protestants rising to heaven
    • dual streams of time
    • drawing in the style of 18th/19th century European art

Jacques Bertin

  • Matrix theory of graphics; Semiology of Graphics
  • Cartographer
  • How do you encode data into maps?; developed seven variables of visual language
  • Point, Line, Area differentiation for Visual Variable
    • X/Y position
    • Size
    • Value (shade/intensity)
    • Grain (stripe/patterned fill)
    • Color
    • Orientation
    • Form/Shape

Herbert Bayer & the World Geographic Atlas

  • 1925: Bauhaus and universal type, no capitals, clean geometry
  • 1953: World Geographic Atlas
    • wide-use of symbols allows information to be understood by illiterates

Design History: Joseph Priestley

A New Chart of History + Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley and the Graphic Invention of Modern Time
Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 36.1 (2007) 55-103
D. Rosenberg

Cartographies of Time (2007)
D. Rosenberg & A. Grafton

  • River of Time
    • “He who postpones the hour of living as he ought, is like the rustic who waits for the river to pass along (before he crosses); but it glides on and will glide forever.” —Horace, Epistles (I.2.41), quoted in Priestley, Description of a Chart of Biography, 24:476.
  • Introduction
    • “[Timelines]—straight and curved, branching and crossing, simple and embellished, technical and artistic—[are] the basic components of historical diagrams. […] the line is a much more complex and colorful figure than is usually thought. We all use simple line diagrams in our classrooms—what we usually call timelines—to great effect. They are such a familiar part of our mental furniture that it is sometimes hard to remember that we ever acquired them in the first place.”
    • Few examples of critical work classified as time maps are discussed in the numerous publications of history and cartography.
    • Rosenberg and Grafton suggest the ubiquitous nature of lines and history education is not without merit; it is easily understandable. Historically, this has not always been the case.
    • Chronologies are often dismissed as rudimentary by historians. For most, to qualify as historiography the considered must deal in real events, and it is not enough to represent events in chronological framework that they originally occurred, the events must revealed to possess a structure.
    • Why is the timeline an apt visual analogy? Numbers are organized and defined by the line. Our whole perception of temporality is based on linear sequencing.
    • While our modern understanding of timelines (with one axis and regular distribution of dates) is only 250 years old, the analogy has been evolving since written culture’s beginning. Technical innovations in printing and plotting at the end of the 17th century permitted the visual analogy of the timeline to met with precision under the lens of the scientific eye.
    • Innovators in the late 17th century and early 18th century began to tackle how to represent how create more complex visual schemes to aid in the presentation of the most complex ideas. However, the scholars began to develop ways to simplify and create a visual scheme that clearly communicated the uniformity, directionality and irreversibility of time.
  • Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley (1733 – 1804)
    • English scientist and theologian, usually associated with the first instance of chemical isolation of oxygen, and the invention of soda water.
    • His belief in the study of history celebrates world’s successes as well as a tool for the future generations to anticipate practical needs. The study of history is a narration of God’s natural laws, and by understanding how His higher power has previously worked brings human enlightenment closer to a comprehension of God Himself.
  • Before Joseph Priestley
    • grid, matricy of words
    • non-regularly spaced dates
    • time malleable and expands/contracts depending on rhythms of generations and importance/documentation of events.
    • grid
    • nations are named horizontally, dates descended vertically
    • single-plane allows dates to be given and shown
    • sizes of nations are inconsistent, Romanocentric
    • non-uniformity characteristic of an engraver; single-page, all-at-once-view of a chart was his biggest contribution. Priestley improved upon this with systematic principles of a scientific illustration

Priestley_Lecture_wResponse copy 4

    • English Minister and teacher, Francis Tallents

Priestley_Lecture_wResponse copy 5

    • English Cartographer Thomas Jeffreys, 1753
  • 1765 Chart of Biography

Priestley_Lecture_wResponse copy 6

    • represented the birth and death of historical figures, despite merit, categorized by accomplishment spectra.
    • date/time measures on top and bottom showing horizontal lines as spans of time famous historical figures had lived.
    • few “new” techniques or ideas, yet it was the most strikingly simple diagram produced to this date.
    • the first time way with a fully developed visual vocabulary; first alternative to a traditional data matrix
    • the timeline was “a most excellent mechanical help to the knowledge of history” and now an image of history itself. History, at that time and in Priestley’s opinion, moves forwards and backwards to make comparisons and contrasts, and allows for branches to follow plots and subplots.

Priestley_Lecture_wResponse copy 7

  • 1769 New Chart of History

Priestley_Lecture_wResponse copy 8

    • represents geographical world in terms of who ruled/reigned and when
    • attempted to reconcile the ideas of time and place
    • country region: horizontal space
      time frame: vertical space
      area: ruler/reigning power
  • Design Techniques
    • More than three-feet wide and two-feet tall
    • Chart of History: accurately register the lives and deaths of two thousand famous men on a scale of three thousand years in “universal time”; the fates of seventy-eight principal kingdoms during the same period.
    • The two charts were available as posters to be framed or as scrolls wound up on rollers. Designed for the curiosity and pleasure of a general reader, they were also meant to serve the scholar.
    • “If history were rendered in natural proportion, chronological absurdities would quickly come to light.” —Joseph Priestley
    • Dates are measured on both the top and bottom of the charts
    • Each 100 years is marked on the Chart of History, with dots in between to measure decades
    • Vertical lines connect axis labels to promote visual equivalency
    • Priestley hoped that, by maintaining one scale for the two works, he would make it easy to use them together. Though the two could not literally be superimposed, they could be placed side by side for comparison, and as Priestley notes, readers might very easily inscribe one chart with helpful marks from the other
    • Chart of Biography: horizontal lines to separate biography classifications (Historians, Antiquaries; Orators and Critics; Artists and Poets; Mathematicians and Physicians; Divines and Metaphysicians; etc.)
    • Chart of Biography: Short or long ellipsis (…) to show uncertainty of birth or death at end/beginning of line. More ellipsis, more time of uncertainty.
    • Labels vs. textual information: Though Priestley says that names must be written on the chart, and indeed he places them there, he specifies that their function is merely indexical. The chart functions fully as a graphical representation of history without a single name being mentioned. In Priestley’s words, “it is the black line under each name which is to be attended to: the names are only added because there was no other method of signifying what lives the lines stand for.”
    • Color: He makes only one significant concession to the limitations of the simple linear graphic. He added color to the Chart of History, an innovation which allowed him to exhibit the unity of empires that “cannot be represented by continuous spaces.”
    • Scale for Scope
    • Consistency in measurement
    • Visual Coding
  • Priestley on Reading His Chart of Biography
    • “the noblest prospect . . . is suggested by a view of the crowds of names in the divisions appropriated to the arts and sciences in the last two centuries. Here all the classes of renown, and, I may add, of merit, are full and a hundred times as many might have been admitted, of equal attainments in knowledge with their predecessors. This prospect gives us a kind of security for the continual propagation and extension of knowledge; and that for the future, no more great chasms of men really eminent for knowledge, will ever disfigure that part of the chart of their lives which I cannot draw, or ever see drawn”
    • For Priestley, the essence of the chart was to give a broad view.
    • the way the lines bunch up on the right side shows the rapid acceleration of progress.
    • From a distance, to use his own analogy, the lines on the Chart of Biography should look like “so many small straws swimming on the surface of [an] immense river.” In some eras, these flow smoothly from left to right as in even water. In others, they bunch up or separate as the currents of history change speed.
    • The chart is densest with biographical lines at the farthest right edge, that is to say, in the most recent historical period. This is no accident of historical record.
    • In other words, in Priestley’s view, the mass of straws accumulating at the right of the chart represents an actual historical phenomenon, the “acceleration” of the arts and sciences in his own time. And, indeed, on his chart, something called science literally takes on a figure, perhaps for the first time.
  • Priestley on Reading His New Chart of History
    • “If the reader carry his eye vertically, he will see contemporary state of all the empires submitting in the world, at any particular time. He may observe which were then rising, which were flourishing, and which were upon the decline. Casting his eye a little to each side of the vertical line, he will see what empires had lately gone off the stage and which were about to come on.”
    • the whole of history is before you, a medium that is possible less partial than the actual experience.
    • “They are rather melancholy reflections, which the view of such a chart of history as this is apt to excite in the minds of persons of feeling and humanity. What a number of revolutions are marked upon it! What a broken appearance, in particular, do the finest and most cultivated parts of the earth exhibit, as Greece, Italy, Persia, and Egypt! What torrents of human blood has the restless ambition of mortals shed, and in what complicated distress has the discontent of powerful individuals involved a great part of their species!”
    • here the graphic analogy of the line points to human violence and turmoil, blood shed.
  • Summary
    • he believed that history had a direction.
    • the mechanism that he developed for representing chronologies in graphic form achieved its popularity in part because it lent itself so well to the figuration of progress.
    • But for Priestley, the timeline was something else: it was a mechanism for breaking open historical narrative and for subjecting it to questions that it resisted in form.
    • If the Chart of Biography in some way looked like progress, this was not true for the Chart of History, nor would it be for a hundred other charts plotted within the same epistemological space. For Priestley the creation of the timeline was a step toward reckoning with the many ways of seeing and representing history.
    • Harry’s Holiday: plot hinges on a young boy’s attempt to hand copy one of Priestley’s charts—a foolish effort which occasions a lecture from his father on the virtues of mechanical reproduction. Many reproductions of his charts, and expansions on such, are seen littered throughout 1800s academic work.

Design History: Mappamundi

3 Map Mundi / Kingdom / City

The Catalan Atlas

  • Abraham Cresques, 1375
  • vellum, 9ft +
  • 3 Parts: Introduction, Portolan Chart (Mediterranean & black sea), Expansion
  • Aragon royalty commissioned nautical charts to be presented to Charles V, King of France
  • Portolano: a collection of sailing directions
    • rhumbline grid: straight lines of sailing paths
  • 300 years ahead of time in terms of accuracy of coast lines
  • First use of compass rose
  • mappamundi: “image of the words, of its different periods, of the different regions over the weather and the different races that live on it.” —Cresques
  • Why is the Atlas special?
    • extended range beyond Mediterranean and Black seas, to Asia and North Africa
    • emphasis on political geography, flag icons for rule and religion, etc.
    • introductory pages: astrological, astrophysical, cosmological, navigational, elemental, historical, narrative information
  • Design choices
    • subjective descriptions
    • iconography
    • multiple intended users (traders, sailors, pilgrimages, etc)
    • graphic distortion/enhancement of Majorca (Cresque home island), Corsica, Sardinia, & Cyprus
    • text orientation suggests viewing from tabletop, walking around

Turgot Map

  • 1739, Paris
  • Isometric view
  • Michel Turgot (commissioned), to promote reputation of Paris for resident and foreign elites
  • Louis Bretez (designer), ~2 years to survey, ~2 years from image to engravings to print
  • France
    • 17th century: Henry IV launches new city planning, architecture projects
    • 18th century: Paris expands westward, large population boom from immigrants, “age of enlightenment” —call for scientifically accuracy
  • Hills represented flat, rather than isometric, to prevent cover-up of roads
  • Selective shadowing, to show sun position
  • perspective goes against “port view”
    • most maps of the city were based on ships coming in from the top of the Seine, this map orients itself ~45 away from this traditional perspective.
  • All building details shown: doors, courtyards, windows
    • Property tax was determined (at this time) by street-facing windows, so not unheard of

American Bird’s Eye View Maps

  • European: reference, geography
  • American: self-serving, city-pride
  • Why so popular? Immigration & Transportation
    • Allowed for many cities to spring up
    • map served as best light to show cities in to grow population
    • Includes: factories/jobs, bridges, railroads, ports, public parks, schools
    • Excludes: slums, trash, weather, conditions of public works
  • Map as an Advertisement
    • commissioned and vetted by chambers of commerce
    • companies and stores paid to be on map
  • Not made from hot-air balloon views
    • surveyed lands to determine view that had most potential
    • distance fairly accurate, while building/commodity size is enhanced
    • surrounding land was generally inaccurate, adding green space and forestry to frame the city in a good light
    • if no vignettes were sold to large companies or city buildings, the space was still completed with nature
    • if extra space was sold, more vignettes would be added to the sky region
  • 1800s crowd funded
    • artists would collect subscriptions to meet quota to produce

Design History: Transportation

2 Transportation

Peutinger Table

  • A Map of the Roman World
  • towns and roading near Mediterranean, Europe, Anatolia, Egypt, Magreb
  • 4th Century
  • 3 prominent cities: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch
  • only copy lost and copied by monk in Colmar on parchment in 13th century
  • only discovered in 1494 found between leaves of book; 1507 book and map given to Peutinger
  • User-centered features
    • icons for services avaialbe (inn, bath, gymnasium, etc)
    • distance between locations on same road
    • removes space between cities not on the same road
  • ~3ft x 15ft, possibly another panel that did not survive the copying process
    • size possibly because of parchment limitations, or because of table top surface dimension


  • Etzlaub (in Nuremburg) was an instrument maker for navigation uses between cities
  • designed for year 1500, because of so many Europeans want to pilgrimage from Europe to Rome
  • Nuremburg Map (1492) centralized Nuremburg and showed its relationships to other cities nearby
  • Romweg: represents towns of Holy Roman Empire
    • Color coded: islands are red, italy is green, france is red, netherlands is light yellow, etc. based on languages currently spoken in area.
    • oriented Mediterranean at top, North Sea at bottom (opposite) to show top-to-bottom travel.


  • 17th century England and Wales
  • introduced 1” scale, varying compass orientation so that roads run up and down


  • Timeline
    • 1830: first “city communications” committee that oversaw transportation
    • 1846: idea of inner and outer circles of rail system
    • 1863: first underground rail opened (4 miles) in world, but was steam powered
  • Private companies wanted railways that brought people into heart of city bc they had more money. The central part of London has more poor people, less profit for inner city transportation
    • 1905: all inner-city rail electrified
  • Upwards of 8 individual companies owned railway, and some companies connected railways and had to pay tolls and profits
    • 1932: public companies merged all private railways into standardized service
  • Henry C. Beck: Junior draftsman, laid off from signal engineer temp position
    • drew 1939 iconic map in spare time (completed in 1931, but not published until 1933)
    • thought of as “too revolutionary for the time”
    • 45/90 degrees lines only
    • only landmark River Thames
    • scaled city center up and suburbs down to make fixed intervals on lines
    • geography de-emphasized, connections and transfers featured
    • uses single color for each “line” through the city
  • culturally, this means:
    • efficiency is important
    • technology = social progress
    • new ideas about leisure; commuting somewhere in between
    • commuting lifestyle made possible
    • train station new locus for commerce and consumption
  • Beck redesigns map multiple times, hand-lettering all minute changes.
    • Beck moves towards only rectangular forms around 1940, but wasn’t popular concept
    • Beck’s map replaced by Hutchinson’s diagrams in 1960 without Beck’s knowledge.
  • Frank Pick: push to create Art for the Underground
    • paid Artists/commissions for art even when not used
    • stands abut the de-emphaszied role of the diagram maker Beck


Interview with Mossimo Vignelli

1972-1978 NYC Subway Diagram designer: M. Vignelli

NYC_Subway_RESPONSE – presentation documenting Vignelli quotes on design, criticism and his 1972 NYC Subway Diagram; meant to be an oral presentation and downloaded for further study.

Design History: 1 Cosmology & Theological Narrative

1 Cosmology & theological narrative 09.21.15

Alfred Jannoit’s Palace de la Porte Dorée

  • facade of a permanent structure for the 1931 Paris International Colonial Exhibition
    • 1960: building became National Museum of African and Oceanic Arts
    • 2007: building became Immigration History Museum
  • Facade is a bas-relief carving, like that of Mexican art
    • commissioned, took ~14 months to complete
    • 40ft high, 300ft long; wrapped around building and over doorways; parts obscured by thick columns, difficult to see whole piece at once
    • Art Deco/Moderne stylistically
  • Content of piece denotes all territories of the French empire
    • Each panel = ~1 country
    • depiction of each country includes people, in their natural habitat, working to gather resources. Moving them to transportation (above) that are all focused inward.
    • THEME: economic benefit of each country to France mainland
    • France represented by interior space and only in terms of Roman/Greek God(ess) imagery.

The Cathedral of Saint-Lazare in Autun: The Last Judgement

  • location: Autun, France
  • built: ~1120-1146
    • Romanesque stylistically
    • Gothic additions
  • usage: pilgrims visited to see relics of Lazare believed to heal and bless
  • Saint Lazare
    • Mary Magdalene’s brother; brought back to life by Jesus
  • The Last Judgment
    • over the main entrance; tympanum
    • depiction of Christian judgement day
    • used to show information within bible, because at the time of creation most were illiterate
  • Depiction of Jesus
    • largest hierarchy, central
    • under inscription: signature of Gislebertus, usual at time
  • Blessed in Heaven to the left, Damned in Hell to the right
    • St. Michael weighing souls in Hell
  • Awaiting Judgement
    • Shows both processes of acceptance into Heaven and plucked into Hell
    • designed to be looked up at from entrance; putting those awaiting judgment nearest church-goers
  • Preserved during French Revolution because during 17th century depiction was considered too grotesque and covered with plaster.

Borobudur Temple – Java, Indonesia

  • largest and most complete vision of Bhuddist relief art
  • ~8th/9th Century
  • ~2,500 m of sculpture
  • hidden for centuries under foliage and ash; preserved
    • no evidence of civilization using this temple in 10th Centruy
  • level of detail so great you can tell genus of plant; old agricultural methods
  • represented other Asian cultures understood trade and travel
  • Zones
    1. Kamadhatu: WORLD OF DESIRE common law, cause and effect
    2. Rupadhatu: WORLD OF FORMS released from worldly matters
    3. Arupadhatu: WORLD OF FORMLESSNESS highest sphere, enlightenment – no reliefs
  • Depicts all 500 reincarnations of Bhudda
    • all with a language of hand gestures depicting teachings of Bhuddism
  • ziggurat: terraced-step pyramid; upward toward enlightenment
  • stupa: a place of worship; dwelling for the mind

La Sargrada Família – Barcelona, Spain

  • facade tells the life of Jesus Christ
  • 18 towers (12 apostles, 4 evangelists, the virgin mary, Christ)
  • 3 facades
    1. Nativity – portal of charity, portal of hope, portal of faith
    2. Passion (The suffering)
    3. Glory (The Resurrection) – unfinished as of today; represented between seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues
  • Antoni Gaudí inherits project in 1883, concentrates solely on work in 1914, dies in 1926.
    • Spanish Civil War bombed his studio, so most original plans were lost
    • inspiration includes: his religious faith – sacred family (jesus, mary, saint joseph) & love of nature (god’s work)

Thanka Narrative Painting – Tibet

Green Tara
  • Thanka: thing that unrolls
    • subject: religious doctrines, stories, buddha imagery, historical events, biographies
    • theme: always buddhism (follow laws of depiction)
    • passages from scripture are written on back
    • never signed/dated by artist
  • Development Period AD 1100
    • paintings depict diety story on paper or silk
    • Composition: simple, composted of many straight lines
    • Colors: reds, greens, yelows
    • Subject: Bodhisattva
  • Maturing Period AD 1440-1500   
    • composition: more complex, perspective and proportion
    • colors: more varied
  • Modern Period AD 1600-1800
  • Examples
    • “Wheel of Life”
    • “Green Tara” – willing to help needy; enlightened feminine compassion; aka the Prompt
    • “Mahakala” – the great black one – each arm symbolic of achieving perfection; each arm holds item – crushing animal form (elephant) represent suppression of animalistic nature of person
  • How to make
    • with brush: hairs of animals (cats, horse, goat, etc)
  • Scroll function because Tibetan buddhists used them as a teaching tool and meditation tool; they often traveled and had to carry these with them
  • Depictions of Buddha and deities are under strict laws

The Parthenon Marbles – The Elgin Marbles

  • split between Acropolis Museum and British National Museum
  • Parthenon
    • built on a re-built Acropolis (destroyed by Persians around 480 BCE)
    • huge scale project for the time
    • temple to Athena; designed to be the first all-marble temple

The Marbles:

  • The pediment (triangluar, along roof’s facade)
    • Athena’s mythology; all gods; sculpture
    • triangle used as window instead of container
  • The metopes (smalls squares, below pediment facade)
    • mythological battles; deep relief
    • metaphoric battles of mythology creature vs. ideal human form
  • The frieze (continuous bas-relief, interior)
    • parade/processions of Greeks; shallow relief tilted toward viewer
    • showing all Greeks at unifying event at the Panathenaic Festival parade
  • All of which are far from the viewers on the ground
  • Communication Goals:
    • history of Athens, in relation to Athena
    • greek pride (first attempt to carve Greek mortals next to Greek Gods)
    • greek ideals