Pentagram partner Giorgia Lupi has been named the inaugural artist in the RAND Art + Data Residency, a new program of the RAND Corporation that merges the worlds of art and data to help people better understand public policy issues. RAND is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that uses rigorous analysis to transform research into fact-based, actionable solutions that empower communities.
The RAND Art + Data Residency is curated by Debbie Millman, designer and host of the award-winning podcast “Design Matters,” and The Gordon Co, a future-focused strategy and branding agency founded by DeeDee Gordon. Each quarter, a different artist will use RAND’s public policy research to create a series of monthly visualizations aimed at building awareness around pressing issues such as healthcare, education, international affairs, energy and the environment.
The program is part of the new NextGen Initiative, a series of ongoing projects focused on introducing RAND’s cutting-edge capabilities and extensive public policy research to younger generations. This goal to make data more approachable and engaging complements Giorgia’s work in “data humanism”—using data to uncover the human stories behind the numbers and statistics, and to challenge the idea of data as something that is impersonal and intimidating.
“It’s an honor to be RAND’s inaugural artist for their Art + Data Residency,” says Giorgia. “As a data visualization designer focused on reconnecting numbers to what they stand for—stories, people, ideas—I am excited to explore new ways to visualize RAND’s groundbreaking work, using data itself as the raw creative material to tell visual stories.”
The first RAND Art + Data visualization focuses on mental health, a serious issue facing millions of Americans today, especially as the country emerges from a collective trauma like the pandemic. The visualization features a striking image inspired by an MRI brain scan, to reinforce the connection between mental health and science. The infographic employs a visually expressive and poetic approach that helps humanize the data.
Giorgia and team researched data from RAND’s report on mental health, then conducted a series of design explorations that organized the information around different regions of the brain. In the final visualization, the data is abstractly represented by colorful “waves” emanating from the brain. The infographic highlights data that conveys a sense of urgency around the issue, like the fact that 46.6 million Americans, or nearly 20 percent of the population, are affected by mental illness, but fewer than 1 in 2 of these people receive treatment. The full data visualization can be viewed on RAND’s website.
Project team: Giorgia Lupi, Talia Cotton, Ting Fang Cheng, Phil Cox, Sarah Kay Miller