Infographics help out articles by making dry points more salient and eliminating the need for stock photography for topics that don’t lend themselves to eye-grabbing photos. That’s been the case for a while, but lately there’s been some sort of spike in the prevalence of infographics even when they’re not needed or that illuminating. Maybe it’s the pervasiveness of the Adobe creative suite and millennials growing into jobs where they’re responsible for Powerpoint presentations.
A big topic in infographics is food/nutrition/the environment. I guess everyone eats, and lots of people worry about global warming and garbage floods. Plus we have the classic food pyramid as a bench mark. You can find infographics on making food, consuming it, personal consumption records, contamination, obesity, and harmful ingredients.
Even if an infographic stands on its own, without an article, you still tend to see it in the context of reading; it’s posted on FB, sent in an email, or lands a full spread on Good Mag. Recently, I’ve noticed some infographics stepping into the world that they portray, pulling off a meta move as food containers with info about food. These data visualizations focus on their immediate context: the nutrition of the food they present, with the usual anti-obesity, pro-cheerful minimalism platform.
You can also eat off plates printed with infographics (via):
The chart divides the plate so that you can see the nutritional value in your meal in case looking at your meal is too confusing. I wonder if there’s another component you can add that would cover condiments, sauces, and salad dressing. Salad is a delivery mechanism for cheese. It’s a tricky food to measure.
Who would eat off Wheel of Nutrition plates?
I guess these people wanna be more aware of their meals. I don’t know, I don’t really want stuff to be so obvious. I mean, when you eat, you first crave food, then choose it, then buy/prep it, then see it in front of you, then smell it, then put it in your mouth to eat. That’s a lot of awareness already. I’ll go for plates that are designed as good plates.
Maybe infographics on beverage containers?
Audrée Lapierre designed a milk carton which incorporates a data visualization for the”caloric ratio, nutrient balance completeness, ingredients and their specific amount of carbohydrate, fat, protein and sodium preserving.” (via)
Kind of remember seeing nutrition info on milk cartons at the store, but this version is more vivid. I don’t really relate to it, though, maybe because I wouldn’t put a milk carton on the table anyway. I don’t care how it’s labeled.
In case you’re gonna dine out, Pek Pongpaet tackled the packaging for fast food fries:
I assumed fries were really bad for you, but apparently you just need 35 minutes on the treadmill to undo their caloric harm. 35 minutes of aerobic activity go by really fast. I should have fries more often.
Pongpaet’s background on the mockup:
I’ve been on a documentary kick lately. I just saw shows like Super Size Me, and Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat. I think childhood obesity is a big issue that won’t go away easily. Companies are bombarding kids with messages that undermine parents. So my views on the subject matter is a bit colored.
I’m a big fan of using design to solve problems and using infographics to educate or simplify messages.
In a sense, these food packages share the spirit of cigarette packs with graphic photos of nicotine-related health problems. They gloss over all the fun things inside. It’s hard to imagine a voluntary commercial use for infographics in food packaging for products that contain more than one ingredient.
But in 2008, The Economist put pie charts on pizza boxes in a marketing campaign targeting students in Philadelphia (via):
Also in the series were boxes with charts breaking down mushroom exports to the US and arable + permanent crop land by country. This early example of infographics x food took a different approach from the newer data visualizing food packages. The Economist pizza boxes showcased information about global consumption that was tangentially related to pizza. They didn’t deal with pizza’s nutritional value or suggest its impact on obesity.
The campaign aimed at increasing demand for the magazine rather than spur awareness of health issues. The byline was “Get a world view. Read The Economist.”
Looks like The Economist’s advertising infographic is much less self-referential and serious than the more recent food packages. I miss infographics that don’t try so hard. Wish designers would remember how design can make you feel good about life.
Lunch break infographic (top) via GOOD