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Lisa Strausfeld Announces New Data Viz Venture

After a decade as a partner, Lisa Strausfeld is leaving Pentagram to embark on a new phase of her career as an entrepreneur of information-based projects.

Strausfeld’s first venture is Major League Politics, an online startup with the goal of making government activity as engaging and addictive as sports. The project is one that Strausfeld has been thinking about for years.

“Thanks to the Open Government Directive, today we have unprecedented access to government data,” says Strausfeld. “That, combined with a rising literacy and interest in information visualization and an increased urgency for public engagement with government over the past few years has motivated me to finally make this vision of what I call ‘civic entertainment’ a reality.”

New Work: Designers & Books

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A visit to any designer’s studio will show you that designers have a special relationship with books: reading them, collecting them, writing them, designing them. Designers & Books is a new website devoted to publishing lists of books that esteemed designers—architects, graphic designers, fashion designers, interior designers and product designers—find personally important or formative to their ideas about design. Founded by Steve Kroeter, the site is guided by the principle that, similar to the way good design can make your life better, good books can also make your life better. Pentagram’s Lisa Strausfeld and Takaaki Okada have designed the site to be an accessible, growing resource.

The site launches with book lists from 50 designers, including our own Michael Bierut and Paula Scher, and over 650 titles. In addition, the site also includes book lists submitted by members of the extended design community academics, critics, curators, editors, lecturers and writers—who the site calls “commentators.” The site will continue to expand: new book lists from designers and commentators will be added weekly.

New Work: One Laptop per Child

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Since it began issuing laptops in 2007, One Laptop per Child, the initiative to put low-cost computers in the hands of the world’s poorest children, has provided its XO laptops to an astonishing 2 million students and teachers in countries and regions all over the world. The program, founded by Nicholas Negroponte, has fostered a growing community of educators, developers and supporters, and has helped change the lives of children in Afghanistan, Paraguay, Madagascar, Kenya, India, Argentina, Nepal, Gaza and the West Bank, among others.

Pentagram’s Lisa Strausfeld and her team have designed a new site for OLPC that helps focus on this new phase of the project: the use of the laptops and how they are helping to empower children. Previous versions of the OLPC site emphasized the organization’s mission and laptop technology. Now that the laptops are in use, the new site details the accomplishments of the program, helps create a sense of community and encourages continued support. The site has an editorial focus and acts as a kind of OLPC “mother ship,” or hub, that serves to aggregate news and information about OLPC and surface the communities that have grown up around the program. The homepage shares stories and photos of children and classrooms that use the laptops. News updates are color-coded by source, and the site features an interactive map of the world that shows the countries and regions that have signed on to the initiative, with links to local updates via the OLPC Wiki. The site uses the language of simple graphic icons that Pentagram’s Michael Gericke developed for the organization’s identity. The new site was developed by Upstatement.

Pentagram has been involved with OLPC since the organization’s inception. This is the third time we’ve designed the OLPC site, following the initial launch in 2007 and an update in 2008. Michael Gericke designed the OLPC identity, and Lisa Strausfeld designed Sugar, the XO laptop’s graphical user interface.

Pentagram Launches New Website

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Every designer or design firm faces the challenge of how best to show their portfolio online. Which projects make the cut? How many images? What do potential clients want to see? For our new site, launched last week, we’ve taken the maximal approach, creating an image-driven, easily navigable collection of hundreds of our projects that will continue to grow as we finish new work. The site allows users to view multiple projects at once and take a closer look at portfolios of each project.

New Work: GE Capital, Americas

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The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, and the economy has been slowly improving over the past year, but what does the recovery look like for the average business? In a survey, GE Capital, the financial services unit of GE, asked 530 CFOs of middle-market companies in seven major industries about their confidence in the recovery. GE Capital is one of the biggest lenders to small and midsize companies and provides financial products and services for over 1 million businesses around the world. In the U.S., midsize companies represent GE’s primary market and are a significant engine of growth for the economy. The CFOs participating in the survey—not necessarily customers of GE Capital—represented companies that had $50 million to $1 billion in annual revenue, with an average of $144 million.

The survey provides a comprehensive portrait of the state of the economy and business, and GE Capital Americas commissioned Pentagram’s Lisa Strausfeld and her team to create a data visualization that dynamically illustrates the survey results. The project is the latest in an ongoing collaboration between Pentagram and GE to make information more accessible to consumers. Strausfeld and her team previously designed visualizations for GE about hospital quality and home appliance energy use.

“GE continues to believe that data visualization is a powerful way to simplify and advance our shared understanding of the issues shaping our lives—health, energy, and the economy,” says Camille Kubie, leader of GE’s data visualization initiative.