It’s a been a constant source of wonder and delight for all of us at The Understanding Group—learning about and from the work of Richard Saul Wurman, who is 80 years old today.
Mr. Wurman insists that he doesn’t have a legacy, and that this is part of what makes it possible for him to do good work.
Phooey. The legacy is the good work.
Beginning with the Cheltenham High School Yearbook he designed in 1953, the true number of Wurman-authored works is orders of magnitude beyond any sum total he’s credited himself with in the bios used for TED conferences and on book jackets over the years. The common thread in every example from his oeuvre: making the complex clear.
I love Mr. Wurman’s last books. His last-last book was called 33, and his newest-last book is called Worship The God of Understanding & The Angels of Transparency and Clarity of Source. Unlike 33, which went only as far back as 1976, the new book will show examples from more than 60 years of Mr. Wurman’s work and will include guest chapters from designers and information architects Mr. Wurman admires.
As part of the historical research and editorial assistance TUG is providing on the project, it’s become advantageous to build digital re-creations of certain works which resist our attempts to photograph them clearly—for example, these visual explanations of the relative distances and world records for certain events in Olympic Access from 1983.
In celebration of Mr. Wurman’s birthday, we’ve adapted these facsimiles for use in a poster that Mr. Wurman has given us permission to give away as birthday presents. You can get a PDF of the poster here. Enjoy!
Happy birthday, Mr. Wurman!
P.S. In case you missed it: a delightful video from Mr. Wurman’s 75th birthday celebration.