The Phyllotaxis Lab, the research arm of Seed, was established to develop a deeper understanding of Scientific Thinking and its application to human-scale problems.
We initiate and fund internal research projects to advance lines of thinking that intrigue us. Everyone at Seed benefits from free time to pursue undirected R&D. Often, these explorations result in larger research and development projects. We collaborate with universities, think tanks, research organizations, museums, NGOs… just about anyone who shares our curiosities.
We commission works from artists, designers, and architects that bring Scientific Thinking™ to life.
Above The Self-Assembly Line by Skylar Tibbits (MIT) and Art Olson (Scripps)
The Design of Complexity
In collaboration with: MIT Media Lab & World Economic Forum
Coupled with math and science, design can be a powerful tool for making sense of the increasing complexity we encounter in the world. As part of the Design of Complexity symposium co-hosted with the World Economic Forum and the MIT Media Lab on July 22, 2013, Seed Scientific led a workshop to explore how policymakers, business leaders, and the public perceive and interpret fundamental network visualization “variables” (like color, stroke width, physics) within the context of complex systems. Participants were presented with a series of networks, each exploring a single design “variable,” and were asked to note what design change they observed and what meaning they associated to that change.
Responses revealed that absent a key or other informational framework, the interpretation of visual variables is inconsistent, suggesting that the public has varying baseline literacy of network visualization. Also, variables that might be considered more sophisticated or complex — like motion as opposed to color — were the least understood but also the most compelling, suggesting the ability of variables that affect the physics of a system to help connect an audience to understanding. The impulse to impose narratives on the systems or interpret a greater pattern or order was also observed, and those participants who were the most visually literate in complexity better perceived changes in the systems and questioned the context of these changes. In a short discussion that followed, participants explored how these insights could be used to prepare policymakers to immerse in deeper explorations of complexity and to help designers better visualize complexity. To learn more about this project or to get involved in future phases, please contact us.