In 2014, the independent art publisher Humboldt Books and Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) commissioned a creative team including Pentagram partner Giorgia Lupi, then at Accurat, to conceive, design, and develop an innovative interactive magazine. Called Peninsula Talks, the magazine explored both contemporary Italian ingenuity and the creative potential of digital publishing.
Through enhanced interviews with five young Italian artisans, the premiere issue focused on the theme of “redefining ‘Made in Italy,’” global shorthand for fine craftsmanship. Using a unique integration of video journalism, data visualization, and interactive web technologies, Lupi and her team added uncommon depth and functionality to the storytelling and reading experience.
In the concept development phase, the creative team worked with journalists and content curators to develop a new approach to video interviews, one that would provide context and reveal connections from subject to subject. The approach involved collecting both metadata from the interview recordings and personal data from the interview subjects through questionnaires. The team leveraged both sets of data to provide background for the video content and allow the user to customize their magazine experience.
Substantial research, imagination, and technical optimization went into the development and realization of this concept. To build the information infrastructure that would drive the data visualizations, the team collected, analyzed, tagged, and organized data from the videos and questionnaire responses in a cloud database. Data points covered the interview subjects’ personal history, travels, work, interests, and other details about their lives and occupations.
The team then generated interactive visualizations from the data sets. Lupi designed and incorporated brightly colored cues and inviting structures which were digitized and added in layers to the magazine’s video display. Her visually minimalist “timeline” tool, for example, allows users to rearrange narrative units thematically in unlimited combinations. Throughout the magazine, the user can customize the flow of content and dig in for more detail about each artisan by clicking on the frameworks of coded maps, symbols, and type that simultaneously appear over the feed.
Peninsula Talks debuted at the Venice Biennale, where leaders in design from around the world gather every other year to share, display, and celebrate the latest innovations in design, art, architecture, and related technologies. Since the launch, the team has developed the content and functionality further, adding more artisans, stories, and layers.
In addition to expanding storytelling canons and redefining “Made in Italy,” the project showcases the potential impact of integrating video, data visualization, and interactivity. While the magazine helped position Humboldt as an innovative publisher, TMI used Peninsula Talks to promote the expansion of broadband services in Italy and a new generation of smartphones that enable richer digital experiences.