‘Telling My Story Through Data’

Exhibition Design, Data Driven Design

Design for an interactive, data-driven installation at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

“Telling My Story Through Data” is an interactive, data-driven installation for Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum created by Giorgia Lupi and her team. The colorful installation invites children to reflect on their experiences visiting the museum and then represent those emotions in a collective 3D data visualization. The installation is a companion to the museum’s recent data-focused exhibition, Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair, which paired works from the permanent collection with pioneering infographics by Du Bois.

Giorgia and her team worked collaboratively with the museum’s education staff to decide on the data points that would inspire children and spark meaningful discussion. Each colored ribbon in the installation represents six emotions (excitement, confusion, anxiousness, curiosity, surprise, not sure), and the placement of the ribbons on the wall represent the borough of the participant and their age. Each emotion had to be familiar to the children, and hopefully accurately reflect their experience of being in the galleries.

The design of the wall took into consideration the ages of young visitors (between 5 and 18), ensuring children of all heights and abilities could engage with it directly. It was also important that the materials be easy to manipulate for even the smallest children. After considering various materials, including stickers, pebbles and labels, the team suggested using colored paper ribbons to represent each child’s emotions on the wall, taking inspiration from knot-tying traditions. As the children add their ribbons to the wall, data insights become visible: whether more children felt surprise or curiosity, if the older children felt differently from the younger children and whether children from a certain borough felt a certain way. 

The wall inspires participating children to observe their emotions, give them physical shape and discuss them openly. It subtly encourages them to use data as a lens to learn more about themselves and the world around them through observation, data collection, naming of emotions and visualization. 

New York
Giorgia Lupi
Project team
Gabrielle Merite
Ting Fang Cheng
Madeleine Garner
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