This project offers a new history of data visualization from the eighteenth century to the present.

Through a set of six interactive case studies, Data By Design will show how visualizations of data, like the data themselves, are never neutral informational forms. Rather, they always carry a set of implicit assumptions—and, at times, explicit arguments—about how knowledge is produced, and who is authorized to produce it.

Lead Designer


Identity & Branding
Web Design & Development


Studio Polymode
Lauren Klein
& The Digital Humanities Lab


What is the story we tell about the emergence of modern data visualization?
How might we tell that story differently?

Poetic Research

Understanding the subtleties of the history of data viz,

and embracing a meta approach to storytelling.  The team felt strongly about the project having features that document the process and data that went into pulling it together. My type decisions reflect a similar self-referential approach. 

I developed a design language that is optimised for scalability. The primary typeface, William by Vocal Type is based on Vocal Type William also reflects this technical nature. It is a contemorary interpretation of a monoline engineering template-based lettering style that W. E. B. Du Bois and his Black students at Atlanta University used in their information design and experience design for the American Negro Exhibit in 1900 at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. 



Visualization as Evidence, Interaction as Argument

For the Paris Exposition, as the event is more commonly known, Du Bois worked with a team of Atlanta University students to create 63 poster-sized statistical charts. Like William Playfair and most visualization practitioners ever since, Du Bois appreciated the ability of the charts to convey trends and patterns “at a glance.” In this case, Du Bois sought to highlight the growth and progress of Black Americans in the years since emancipation. But Du Bois understood that data could not convey the full picture of this progress—nor could it convey the full extent of the obstacles that the nation’s Black citizens were required to overcome.

The 63 charts created for the Paris Exhibition were grouped into two sets. The first set, The Georgia Negro: A Sociological Study, focused on statistics that had been compiled by Du Bois and his students that related to the Black population
of that state. The second set was more national in scope. Entitled A Series of Statistical Charts Illustrating the Condition of the Descendants of Former Slaves Now in Residence in the United States of America, this set drew from several
data sources, including the US Census, in order to put the Black population of the United States in national and international perspectives.

We wanted to preserve the 3 modalities DuBois engineered in the exhibit. 
  • The Single Frame. 
  • The Stack (w Flipping)
  • and The Wall spread ( To view everything in a set, all at once. Seenin the Library of Congress Documentation)
We deicded to pack information in a cornocopia of elemental interactions that leds the user parse through the charts in a set at their own pace, while providing a sense of the greater whole. 




Projects © 2022
Typeset in

Piazolla, Neue Haas Grotesk & VCR OCD Mono