Design 4

I am what I eat

The basis for this design concept is to create an inventory of all the edible items present in your refrigerator. You will look at every item, photograph it on a well-lit white background, and catalog each item; creating a taxonomy of the inventory of your food and use this information as the basis of your research of data and information used to create an information graphic that conveys some information and knowledge to its readers.

Does the list say anything about who we are as a culture? Do the food items say anything about you as an individual? Thing + thing + thing = me?
The objective of this project is to deal critically with consumer behavior and to provoke awareness of what we consume. The title, “I am what I eat”, is not a final answer or statement. It is an invitation to reflect and to question.

PART A. Research, Collecting Data and Compiling a Taxonomy

Step 1. Creating a list.

The result will be an inventory of your food as a text list. Organize your list so that items are arranged alphabetically by the name of the item.

Choose one typeface and using Adobe Illustrator create two 11 x 17” tabloid art boards. You may use black, white and one colour. Use only type.

On the first art board layout the text of your inventory list and include your name and the date when the inventory was taken and the title “I am what I eat.” Use type (style, scale, leading, kerning, alignment, etc.) to create a lay out the page with the text of your inventory.

On the second art board arrange the text items under different categories or aspects so that it tells us something about the contents of your refrigerator.

You can do this asking a common set of questions about each item and from this you can create a taxonomy list that helps you make sense of the contents of your refrigerator. Here are some examples of questions to ask.

Location: Where was it located in the refrigerator? Where is the food from geographically (i.e. where was it grown, raised, produced). Where did you purchase the item? Etc.

Category: Animal (pork, beef, fish, bird, insect), Vegetable (fruit, root, leafy green, etc.) or Mineral? Organic or Non-Organic? Processed food or Natural? Is it a Protein, Fat or Carbohydrate? What does it taste like? Is it sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or savory (aka umami)? Ownership (mine, my room-mates’, communal), What color is it? etc.

Hierarchy: How much of the item do you have? (Weight, volume or quantity), How much did it cost? How many calories does it have per serving? How much do you like it on a sliding scale of 1(hate it) to 5(favorite food)?, etc.

Step 2 Photographing Your Food
As you compile the text of your inventory, take photographs of the refrigerator with the door closed, and open. Also take photographs of each item on your list.  In order to get the best image quality photograph each item with a white background.  You can take a very large sheet of white paper (18 x 24) and tape one end to the wall, and the other end to a tabletop so that the white paper acts as a ground for you to place each item on.  Make sure you have good lighting either day light or light it from directly from either side of the item so that there are no dramatic shadows obscuring the contours of the food items. Save your images on your thumb drive and bring them to class.

Print your two art boards out and bring all your files to class.  Post a jpeg of your text project to your blog.

PART B Visualization Poster: Food Pictographs and LATCH

Refer to the inventory of food items you gathered from your research.

Step 1. Create a uniform visual language for your symbols.
Using the photographs that you took as a starting point and the process that we used to create your personal pictograph, create pictographs that represent each of the items in your food inventory.
Color: Black and White
Format: Adobe Illustrator.
Size: Keep each icon in a square grid system, 3 x 3″ each.

Step 2. Organize your data into information

Look at the inventory list, and using the LATCH systems of organization reorganize your inventory list based on Location, Alphabetical, Time, Category and/or Hierarchy of your choosing.  Consider how do each of these ways of organizing the data reveals some information about our inventory.

Create a sketch that using LATCH and pictographic symbols to visualize the data and information and tell a story about what is in your refrigerator.

Final format will be:
18 x 24″
Black, White, and one of the following (a munsell scale based on one colour or triadic or tetradic colour palette.)
Printed in colour, trimmed to size.
Put full name, email, date and name of project on a typed label attached to the back of the foam-core.


Exploring Data Visualization With Two Years’ Worth of Food

Designer Lauren Manning has been meticulously documenting the food she eats. Now, she’s visualizing this data set in “a bajillion different ways.”

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Welcome to the Design 4 Blog

This blog is for inspiration and education related to the Parsons Design 4 Information Design and Visualization course taught by Andrew Robinson. The objectives of this class are to help students in the Strategic Design Studies program to learn how to create effective information design as a tool for communication. Beauty in form and function, which communicates ideas effectively, is our goal.
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