To those of us who aren’t well-versed in data or computer science, data can seem foreign and intimidating. But Giorgia Lupi has devoted her career to making statistics accessible to everyone by transforming them into visually stunning patterns that tell engaging stories about the knowledge and the people behind the data. In the past, she’s run a data visualization company, and most recently, she joined the design firm Pentagram as a partner. But in her spare time, she’s been moonlighting as a fashion designer.
Today, she launches a new line she’s created in collaboration with the fashion label & Other Stories. It features hand-drawn visualizations of the data sets created by three trailblazing women scientists: Ada Lovelace, recognized as the first computer programmer in history; Rachel Carson, an environmentalist; and Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space. The collection features 12 ready-to-wear pieces, including T-shirts, bodysuits, sweaters, dresses, and jackets, each emblazoned with the data-set patterns, at price points that range from $49 to $349.
To a casual observer, these representations of data look simply like colorful, fanciful patterns. Take the one inspired by Jemison. It features circles that appear to be bouncing around on a black background. But each circle represents the 126 orbits of Jemison’s 1992 expedition. These patterns are then cleverly incorporated into garments inspired by the women’s lives and fashion style. This circle print, for instance, is featured on a puffer coat that looks a little like a spacesuit, along with a billowy dress that transports your mind to outer space.
“I don’t expect everybody to fully understand the meaning of each pattern,” says Lupi. “I think different people can appreciate it in different ways. But the patterns and the clothes do tell a story, and you understand it more and more as you take it in.”
For the pattern inspired by Carson, Lupi visualizes each chapter of her best-known book, Silent Spring. The end result is a delicate set of floating images that look like tiny birds or butterflies. These images are incorporated into a translucent mesh dress and turtleneck bodysuit suggestive of the sea. And Lupi takes algorithms from Lovelace’s data sets and transmutes them into a set of bars of different colors which, when laid out, look like a colorblock pattern. This is incorporated into high-collared blouses and a shirtdress inspired by the fashion sensibilities of the mid-1800s, when Lovelace did her research.
Storytelling is something that Lupi and the brand & Other Stories have in common. The fashion label, which is owned by the Swedish conglomerate H&M, launched in 2013 with the goal of creating clothes that customers could express themselves through. “Our goal is not to push a particular aesthetic on the consumer,” says Anna Nyrén, the head of collaborations at & Other Stories. “We want them to use our clothes to tell their own stories.”
With this line, Lupi and Nyrén like the idea that women today can incorporate and share the stories of these groundbreaking scientists in their own daily lives.