A place at MoMA, a TED with 1 million of visualizations, an office in Milan and one in NY: Giorgia, Alumna, designer and entrepreneur
The story of Giorgia Lupi, PhD Alumna in Information Design (2011), from Poli to New York through an information design company and 30 employees, a work in the permanent collection of MoMA, a TED Talk of more than a million of visualizations and a new approach to the interpretation of data that is going around the world
Giorgia Lupi, PhD Alumna in Information Design (2011), works in Milan and New York, where she recently opened a new Accurat sale office, the company she founded with 2 partners in 2011. "We met at Poli, we started in 3, today we are 4 members and we have 30 employees, many of whom come from Politecnico di Milano".
Accurat deals with information design for clients from different industries, from finance to healthcare, foundations and technology companies such as Google and IBM. Giorgia works as executive manager and design director in the company with an individual artistic and graphic research, developing independent projects such as "Dear Data", now exhibited in the permanent collection of MoMA in New York.
"The relation with clients and the need to challenge myself with relevant subjects such as the United Nations, WHO or big banking groups such as Unicredit help me to keep an eye on the market needs and on the way in which data are used in the real world", she explains, "but, as the company grew and my work became more and more a manager work and less connected to the world of design, I began to feel the need to find spaces for personal artistic experimentation, to take the pencil in my hand and draw". From this need, "Dear Data" and the more recent "Bruises" found their life: "They are artistic experiments with visual languages that can be seen as extreme, meaningful and it takes time to be properly understood, and they do not answer to the market needs. In commissioned work, it is difficult to experiment without limits. This kind of research is useful for me and the company, because it allows me to keep a broad vision and, with time, it brings to considerations that influence my professional work". One of these considerations gave life to what Lupi calls "Data Humanism", an approach to information design that wants to keep the focus on what the data tell about human experience. Lupi talked about that in 2017, just about "Dear Data", in a TED Talk that had more than a million of visualizations.
Design is intended to define problems and opportunities and to make complex phenomena accessible and clear. Furthermore, when I work as manager I think as a designer. But it was not always like this...
As a company manager, one of the main challenge of Giorgia and her associates is to balance Accurat's growth with the resources and people available: "There are times when a growing company needs to take more jobs than those it can easily manage, as investment on the future and in order to have a possibility to open up to growth and hire new people who bring new energy and skills to the workforce. For example, this is the case of the opening of the sale office in New York (production is all in Italy), which increased our opportunities with new challenges. Today, most of our turnover is international, but it took us several months to find the right combination. The cultural challenge was one of the most important: in Accurat we are all Italians, our customers come from all over the world and have habits and ways of communication different from us. Working in international contexts means adapting to professional dynamics to which we are not used to".
Giorgia and her partners founded Accurat during their PhD programme at Politecnico di Milano in 2011, when information design was still a very young field. Pioneers of the field, they have received almost all the industry awards, we mention some of them: gold medal at the Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards, first prize for Data Journalism at the O'Reilly Strata Data Innovation Award, honourable mention to the Core77 Design Awards in New York, bronze medal at the Malofiej Infographics Awards. "A slice of corruption", produced for Fiorucci in collaboration with McCann in 2013, won at Cannes in the Direct Marketing category. In collaboration with a New Yorker journalist, they recently won a "Magic Grant" from the Brown Institute, a joint institute between the Universities of Columbia and Stanford that funds innovative projects in the world of journalism.
“I think design is intended to define problems and opportunities and it allows to make complex phenomena accessible and clear. Therefore, when I work as manager I always feel and think as a designer. But it was not always like this: at the beginning of the PhD Programme I went through a difficult period, it seemed like if I did not understand nothing, there was deep gap between what I thought I knew and what was required to me. I received a great help from prof. Paolo Ciuccarelli, with whom I then graduated for PhD programme. Working with him and with the other PhD students has opened a world: it was there that I made my first real experience in the world of data visualization, which then influenced my whole career and led to the birth of Accurat. This is why to young people I suggest to look outside their comfort areas. While I was at the faculty of architecture, I did not think I would have had the professional career that I then have had. Moving to Milan, doing a PhD in design and meeting so many different people allowed me to understand that I could use my skills to create a new path. Test yourself, build a portfolio of personal projects that shows what you want and like to do, projects that are not influenced by anyone. Do not be afraid to do what you like to do even when there is not a client who asks you for that. Dear Data was born in this way, and today is at MoMA
Advice for young people
Test yourself, build a portfolio of personal projects that shows what you want to do, projects that are not influenced by anyone. Do not be afraid to do what you like to do even when there is not a client who asks you for that. Dear Data was born in this way, and today is at MoMA
- Giorgia Lupi
- Alumna PhD in Information Design 2011
- Co-Founder e Creative director in Accurat
Image Credit (Cover): Daniel Cochran