TEDMED is the annual conference for thought leaders in the medical field, addressing crucial issues that affect the future of healthcare. For the third consecutive year, TED looked to the Connecticut-based Alexander Isley Inc. to create the overall visual framework for the conference, and a variety of environmental, wayfinding, and informative communication pieces.
As part of the complete conference program, Alexander Isely and his team produce an attendees’ guidebook that includes, among other things, biographies of each speaker. The challenge each year is to determine an unusual way of approaching the speaker portraits. “We don’t want to just use photographs or uninspired, realistic representations. I think of our work with TEDMED as an opportunity to showcase imagination, artistry, and the compelling power of good communication design. So we want to be unusual and compelling,” said Isley.
For the brilliant speaker portraits, Isley decided early on that they would collaborate with Hanoch Piven, an Israeli artist whose work he has long admired, and an artist who recently spoke at TEDx Jersualem. “He does wonderful portraiture using found objects, and has in the past worked with patients suffering from severe ailments and soldiers suffering the effects of PTSD, using art as a healing aid, so there is a strong connection between his work and the TEDMED mission. We thought he’d be perfect,” said Isley.
To give Piven an assist Isley and his team asked the conference speakers a series of questions, hoping that he’d be able to draw on some of the responses to make the portraits more personal and meaningful. The portraits appeared in the printed book, on banners that hung within the main tent, and animated within videos that were created by students at SCAD. A nice surprise: No one complained about their portraits. In fact, most speakers asked if they could have their banners, and the TEDMED people were more than happy to comply.
Hanoch’s typical style is to work with found objects, making beautiful, witty collages, which he then photographs. Seeing as how we had to create over 70 portraits within a couple of weeks’ time, we realized he’d have to approach things another way. Fortunately, he’d been developing an app for the iPad which enables you to make your own collage portraits. (It recently won a Parents’ Choice award.) With a few modifications on his part, Hanoch was able to use this app to create his series of portraits within our timeframe and budget.
Of using Mohawk Via for the guidebook Isley says, “I wanted a paper with bright whites, a significant recycled component, and extraordinary color fidelity, as Hanoch’s work is quite vibrant. In our office we have a VIA promotion created by AdamsMorioka that is stunning, showing the paper off to great effect, and that’s what inspired me.”
Design Firm: AlexanderIsley, Inc.
Paper: Mohawk Via