topic: chronology of a failure

The main editors of our first summer school were Joana Breidenbach and Dennis Buchmann from Betterplace Lab – a social research and networking organization. They suggested to work on the topic “Chronology of a Failure”. Beginning right after World War II, the fight against poverty has seen a new fad nearly every decade. Major institutions such as the World Bank, national governments and a growing number of NGOs declare a new ideology which promises to reduce hunger, and improve health, education and human rights at a stroke. Alas, neither the Green Revolution nor Structural Adjustment Policies nor a focus on participation led to real improvements in the lives of the poor. Has progress really been as disappointing as it looks, and do new approaches give any hope for improvement?



20 young, international designers created and edited the publication “Chronology of Failure” in the framework of onlab’s very first Summer School. Divided into seven groups, each team developed a thematic chapter within ten days.

With: Marie Artaker (Austria), Tereza Bettinardi (Brazil), Anja Büchner (Germany), Miriam Busch (Germany), Lucia Del Zotto (Italy), Jessica Doria (Brazil), Maria Eugenia Hernandez (Venezuela), Gustavo Inafuku (Brazil), Sara Kabiri (UK), Esa Matinvesi (Finnland), Vasco Mourao (Portugal), Elizaveta Oreshkina (Russia), Christina Pfeifer (Austria), Tommaso Pucci (Italy), Alice Rzenzonka (Germany), Ilaria Roglieri (Italy), Lauren Thorson (USA), Francesca Valade (Italy), France Vannier (France), Elsa Westreicher (Germany), Gloria Zanotti (Italy).



Sven Ehmann, Gestalten, spoke on storytelling and Sophie Lovell introduced the workflow of editors when it comes to editorial design. Hendrick Hellige, also from Gestalten, presented his work as an illustraton editor. Jessica Reitz & Mark Kiessling, who run the magazine expert store “do you read me?!“, invited us to their shop for a presentation on sale and distribution. Francesco Franchi, art director of IL Magazine (Il Sole 24 ORE), joined us as an expert on infographics, Emmanuel Rey and Ian Party from the legendary foundry swiss typefaces presented their impressive body of work, Chiara Medioli, specialist at the paper manufacturer Fedrigoni, introduced us to the world of fibers, opacity, weights, coating and texture, and last but not least Boris Brumnjak and Armin Akbarzadeh from Gallery Print guided us through the production chain and explained every step from data processing to the finished product.

public conference

With the focus on data visualization and information design, we organised a public conference with Francesco Franchi, art director of IL Magazine (Il Sole 24 ORE), and Stefan Fichtel, visual consultant, creative director and founder of ixtract.

Francesco Franchi presented an impressive and consistent body of work which is mainly based on the production for IL Magazine. Francesco explained how he treats soft news as hard news, mixes low level content with high level graphics and combines the visual languages to increase understanding. Passion was pointed out as the main driver in Francesco’s work. Infographics as a visual language reveals unexpected dimensions for the readers. Stefan Fichtel talked about his all-time favourites, good and bad, true and false and showed us how Colin Powell used false infographics as a justification for war.


The publication has seven chapters and is printed in the two colors blue and red, giving it a consistent look though every chapter follows a different design approach. Each chapter is a poster of 50 x 70 cm on one side and once folded it reveals the double spreads of the publication on the other side. The seven chapters are bound together with rubber bands.

Check the full documentation of the publication on the onlab webpage >


    Check the full day by day documentation of the Summer School 2011 on the onlab webpage >