A 2,300-Year-Old Math Treatise Gets A Graphic Redesign

Modern math and science have one man to thank: Euclid, a Greek mathematician who, in 300 BC, wrote Euclid’s Elements, a 13-book treatise on geometric and numerical theory. In 1482, it became one of the first math textbooks ever printed, and over the centuries it’s been translated into dozens of languages and reinterpreted by other mathematicians.

Now Kronecker Wallis, a Barcelona-based independent publisher of scientific and technical texts, is giving Elements the modern design refresh it deserves and is launching the book via Kickstarter.

[Image: courtesy Kronecker Wallis]
Kronecker Wallis’s Kickstarter builds on the work of Oliver Byrne, a British civil engineer who, in 1847, created a visual, color-coded language to more clearly explain Euclid’s geometric theories through graphic design. Byrne’s books anticipated De Stijl–the early 20th-century modern art and design movement praised geometric order and used primary color in a similar way. It also influenced the Bauhaus, which emphasized geometry and rationality.

Unfortunately, Byrne only reinterpreted six of the 13 books. So, after 170 or so years, Kronecker Wallis picks up where he left off. The publisher worked with experts and the graphic designers at Laia Guarro to apply Byrne’s visual language to the remaining seven books. The aim? To make geometry lessons–which have a reputation for being dry and boring–more approachable, and to make math textbooks beautiful enough to display on your coffee table.

“Maybe it’s too niche or ‘geeky’ to impact the general public on a large scale,” Jordi Anton, founder of Kronecker Wallis tells Co.Design via email. He hopes the Kickstarter makes Euclid’s and Byrne’s work more accessible, and for new audiences to appreciate it on an aesthetic level, “like a piece of ‘art’ in book form.”