Thursday, 12 August 2010

Design: Infographic on Infographics - Neville Brody vs David McCandless on Newsnight

This great infographic by Toby Bradbury from has encapsulated Monday (09 Aug 2010) Newsnight's much heated debate on infographics shown on BBC2. The show featured journalist and designer, David McCandless (who also blogs about infographics), and infamous graphic designer of our times, Neville Brody. Watch all the design fuss from Newsnight infographics debate, visit the BBC iPlayer here (segment starts from about 26 mins in).

General consent is that this debate is pointless (see Creative Review Blog), I think both are too extreme from the spectrum. I am a graphic designer and I love infographics, having said that. I both agree and disagree with Brody and McCandless. There's absolutely nothing wrong with McCandless' finding from India, the bus maps which in this case to simplify complicated bus routes for people (if they have access to these maps).

I agree with Brody that when something is too overly designed to the point of losing the message, that defeats the origin and purpose of Graphic Design/Visual Communication. After all, in my opinion (see click on "Manifesto"), Graphic Design is about marrying function and aesthetic, creating a system of design through thoughts, integrating design with technology, and utilizing technology to communicate. We are often too mesmerised by the new technology and let it overshadow the initial message we wanted to communicate, which is in the case with McCandless triangle diagram. Brody was right, it did not provoke any feelings. It was just "pretty" information presentation. McCandless might have presented his findings clearly but it wasn't communicating the "message".

I think Toby Bradbury has clearly mocked this Newsnight debate, read his tiny by line beneath the little colour cubes: "Just ignore this bit, it's just pretty colours. Everyone loves that s***. I can say that each colour represents a type of word. Would that be enough reason? Okay, that's it. In fact, no. The colours denote "trends" in the conversation, read by some system I'll never explain to anyone."

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