FF Chartwell
Travis Kochel for FontFont

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2012 Innovation By Design Awards: 2-D Design

Earlier this year, we put out a call to the design and business communities: What are the best design-driven innovations of the past year? More than 1,100 companies and organizations responded, offering 1,700 nominees in nine categories. An all-star group of 27 judges—from MoMA curator Paola Antonelli to Nicholas Felton of Facebook—worked with us to identify 56 finalists. Presented on the following pages, these standouts represent the creative explosion under way in our economy. (All of the finalists were introduced or came to market in the year ending June 1, 2012.) The winners will be unveiled on October 16 in New York. As you’ll see as you read ahead, they are all worth cheering.

Here, the finalists for the "2-D Design" category.

A cartographic experiment, Stamen’s Watercolor project reskins Google Maps to look hand-painted. The hope is that digital maps might become not only more functional but also as beautiful as they were in mapmaking’s glory years. This one, says Strausfeld, "is amazingly well done."

Perpetual Ocean
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Relying on scores of sensor arrays and some of the most powerful calculations ever performed, the Perpetual Ocean renders 30 months of maritime-current data as a captivating, swirling, van Gogh–esque visualization. Says Strausfeld: "Projects like these change how the public interacts with NASA."

Graph[s]ic Design
A radical remaking of the standard map, TimeMaps redraws the geography of the Netherlands based on travel time using public transit. The map morphs throughout the day, as trains start or stop running and change frequency.

Designed by a dyslexic, this typeface aids reading for those with the condition, using letter-forms with subtle differentiations to reduce "dancing." The b and d, for instance, are not mirror images, making them less likely to be mistaken for each other.

FF Chartwell
Travis Kochel for FontFont
Chartwell, says Felton, "is an ingenious hack." This easy-to-use tool could disrupt all manner of chart-making programs, thanks to a clever font system that turns chains of numbers into elegant charts. Tweaking a graph is as simple as changing a number.


David Butler

David is the Vice President of Innovation at The Coca-Cola Company. He is responsible for leading the company’s global design vision, strategy and capability. Since 2004, he has led the design thinking for some of the world’s most loved and valuable brands. Butler’s career experience includes leading brand, product and experience design with numerous Fortune 100 companies. He is a frequent lecturer and strong advocate for design education.

Nicholas Felton

Nicholas is a product designer at Facebook that helped shape the site’s Timeline, an infographics pioneer, and a co-founder of Daytum.com, a website for collecting and communicating daily data.Felton is fascinated with data as a shorthand for the routines and milestones of our lives and is the author of several Personal Annual Reports that weave numerous measurements into a tapestry of graphs, maps and statistics reflecting the year’s activities.

Lisa Strausfeld

Lisa Strausfeld is the Global Head of Data Visualization at Bloomberg and the CEO of Major League Politics (MLP), which she founded in April of 2011. Prior to founding MLP, Lisa was a partner at Pentagram where she and her team specialized in digital information projects including the design of large-scale media installations, software prototypes and user interfaces, signage and websites. Her clients included One Laptop per Child, GE, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Bloomberg LP, MIT and the New York Times.

Browse the complete list of judges here.

A version of this article appears in the October 2012 issue of Fast Company.

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  • ləx!dəlʇʇ!Ⴈ

    I'm not dyslexic, nor have I had a chance read the research behind Dyslexie font, but as a Graphic and sometime-typeface designer it seems that however good or bad the research done prior to the design of the letterforms, the actual result here is dog-awful. 

    This is not knee-jerk - I've been following the 'success' of this font for a while and it just amazes me no-one is calling 'The Emperor Has No Clothes On'.I understand there is a need for the letterforms to work in ways that aren't the same as for average readers - that they need to be based on skeletal forms and strokes that avoid repetition, excessive balance and enough original shaping in each glyph to avoid mis-reading by mirroring/jumbling—and that is all fine, but what the designer has seemed to do is take in these factors in an über-literal non-design way that bypasses hundreds of years of craft and arrived at a solution that is at best ugly and at worst just horrifyingly amateur.You can just see how they've grabbed a version of Gill Sans and just hacked and dragged the splines and bezier curves like an over-enthusiastic hedge-trimmerIf there are recognisable and universal 'shapes' that can be proven to work better for dyslexic readers, then a 'one-size-fits-all' approach is pretty insulting. It's like saying 'dyslexics only deserve one font to fit all their reading and communication needs'.Which patently can't be true. What you actually need to do is embrace the [considered, researched, tested] letter shapes as if they were a whole new alphabet, and then create a suite of different, usable fonts for the myriad of different uses (official, modernist, bookish, human ad infinitum) so the all the same reasons a 'normal' person might choose one font over an other translates to those with dyslexic difficulties. And do it with skill, elegance and craft. Not a dodgy Fontographer remix that looks like a high-schoolers shareware font from the mid-nineties.The 'too-long-didn't-read-it' version of what I'm saying is - bastardising a version of Gill Sans really isn't going to cut it - you need to love and understand type and create fonts as if they are a different language to make something that works -perhaps even something that bridges the difficulties of challenged/unchallenged readers and is universally legible.Could a non-speaking, non typographic westerner look at Japanese Kanji and automatically improve its legibility for native Japanese readers? Obviously not - and I think the exact same thing applies here.I applaud the idea and sentiment behind researching and aiming to provide the tools for better communication but in this case feel the 'solution' does not warrant accolades and gongs.My 2¢ on a better place to start looking for 'better type for dyslexics' would German research and resulting FE Schrift typefaces created to solve similar issues of legibility for car licence plates and the reading thereof by OCR equipped traffic cameras.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FE-Schri... Huw Gwilliam (littlepixel) Graphic Designer, London UK

  • Designer

    I might be wrong but I doubt that there is any real fact based evidence of improved reading performance when this dyslexica in stead of lets say the Garamond.
    Has there ever been any scientific research into the effect of this Dyslexie font ? 

    Because I am not convinced that it actually works. I myself am a designer and a dyslexic and feel even more retarded if I try to read a tekst that is set in this particular font.

    Balance, contrast and elegance are certainly not characteristics that this font design has.. In stead it is painfully bad for your self-esteem.