Ed. note: This case study is a selection from the
competition, in which an esteemed jury
identified submissions that demonstrate the value of design in a clear,
compelling and accessible way. It serves as an example of how to explain design
thinking to clients, students, peers and the public in general, based on
Climate change arguably poses the most important challenge humans face
in the coming century. This dramatic exhibition within the Marian
Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences endeavors to
open the doors to the living laboratory that is our climate, while not
shying away from the hard science behind the changes people are
witnessing every day. The exhibit is a strategic blend of media that
investigates the evidence that will inform the decisions we make in the
future. It’s an interdisciplinary exhibit hybrid of public policy,
documentary journalism and the earth sciences. It’s a hub for scholars,
politicians and scientists, and a go-to resource for the general public to
access the core facts about climate science.
Budget details unavailable
The team immersed themselves in the content of climate science. In order
to make the information accessible, we had to know how to explain the
information in everyday language.
The challenges of the Earth Lab were obvious from the start. Climate
science and the issues surrounding climate change policy are difficult
to explain in an exhibit aimed at a target audience of laypeople and
children. The brief for the project was to use a suite of reports from
the National Research Council that looked at current scientific
conceptions of climate change, its impacts and possible strategies for
governments, and to make these findings accessible to visitors—not an
easy task. We used visual storytelling and actively engaged audiences
with interactives in order to make the information accessible and
“Attract, interpret, engage, advance.” We developed an exhibit narrative
following this structure that would guide the visitors as they
navigated the space. The “attract” area sets the goals of the exhibit
and establishes the perspective of the visitors. The “interpret” area of
the exhibit shows current trends, future predictions and
historical landmarks. The “engage” section draws the visitor deeper into
the exhibit and invites them to take action and contribute to the
experience. Finally, the “advance” section answers the question, “Now
what?”, and leaves the visitor with positive, proactive takeaways.
The museum itself has seen great interest around the Earth Lab. The
subject of climate science, although clearly important and contentious,
is also difficult to communicate to a general audience. Our target
audience, which includes the layperson—especially children—has proven
to be incredibly receptive to the interactions in the space. Dwell times
at the Mitigation Simulators have been much longer than expected. By
turning the idea of offsets into a game and putting people in the role
of policymakers, visitors were able to understand the thorny problem
facing governments, but also that it is possible to reach sustainable
Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Penn State and a Koshland
board member, said, “The Earth Lab presents a visual journey through the
best science on climate change. The exhibit opens your mind to the
impacts, possibilities and decisions related to climate. We want people
to engage with the best science on the issue and think it through.
Then, it’s up to you to decide what to do about it. This game sparks
discussion among players. People discover that there are many beneficial
ways to solve this complex problem.”
The best representation of this project is Second Story’s portfolio page, which has a photo gallery, demo videos and complete description.
Learn more about the jury’s perspective on the competition and their
rationale behind the selections.
Section: Events and Competitions -
AIGA’s national design competitions celebrate exemplary design and
demonstrate the power of design.
Section: Events and Competitions -
In this collaborative project, a series of visual prototypes was designed to communicate essential information about malaria treatment and prevention—as well as safe sanitation habits—to the residents of Kibera, Kenya.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, graphic design, nonprofit, posters, diversity, health
Corporate creative teams are being tapped for a wider variety of projects and a more strategic role within their organizations. So how are in-house designers rising to the challenge? The Creative Group partnered with AIGA to find out in our annual research project, the Creative Team of the Future.
Section: Inspiration -
INitiative, Professional Development, career, in-house design, professional development, collaboration, digital media
Learn how IDEO collaborated with internet icon Lars Hinrichs, founder of XING, to create a company that’s aimed to revolutionize the European tech industry by putting
the needs of “geeks” first.
Section: Why Design -
metrics of effectiveness, design educators, students
Design can be a foreign concept to young students in rural
Illinois. The goal of these workshops was to introduce design concepts
and discuss employment opportunities to area middle school students. Following a presentation about design principles, the students were asked to put these principles to use, thinking about visual metaphors and creating engaging copy.
Section: Tools and Resources -
DesignEd K12, design thinking, graphic design, teaching, posters, education, design educators, students
Paris & 3 Glasses
External Resources (cont.)
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