In the most recent issue of National Geographic, a pull-out poster provides one of the the most beautiful pieces of information design I’ve seen in a very long time. One side features the composite image of a Han Chinese male, comprised of thousands of tiny images… From a distance you can see the big picture, while up close you can only see the individuals. It’s a neat trick, but a bit old and hackneyed at this point. The poster’s reverse, however, is the real eye-opener: A magnificent black poster titled “The World of Seven Billion”. (Online, interactive version available here.)
Beneath one of National Geographic’s award-winning maps are a series of statistics so informative, so elegantly laid out, that it literally took my breath away. I pored over it for hours: from life expectancy at birth to literacy and fertility rates, internet users to cars, icons and numbers combine to form a picture of life on earth so succinct as to appear over-simplified. And yet it’s not. It is the big picture of a big world, delicately and beautifully laid out, but not crammed, onto a single sheet of paper. For those of you unable to view the printed piece, I’m providing a few screenshots from the interactive version below.
Magnificent. Elegant. A piece of information design that is at once modern, sublime, and informative. Enjoy!