One Year in a Designer’s Life: Merel Brouns’ Obsessive Timeline
Since Alfalfa Studio opened its doors in 2004, we have had many talented-interesting designers working here. There have been all kinds, —from artsy to conceptual, from experimental to analytical— and then, there is Merel Brouns, the obsessive-compulsive designer from The Netherlands who kind of defies categorization. Merel is everything you …
Since Alfalfa Studio opened its doors in 2004, we have had many talented-interesting designers working here. There have been all kinds, —from artsy to conceptual, from experimental to analytical— and then, there is Merel Brouns, the obsessive-compulsive designer from The Netherlands who kind of defies categorization.
Merel is everything you want in a designer: conceptual, diligent, hard-worker, passionate, good-listener, talented, and the one who is never afraid to try something new.
In fact, one of the projects that made her stand out from all of the other intern applicants was her 2011 timeline. Why is this project so special? The timeline is outstanding for many reasons: First, the size of it, it’s a heavy meticulously hand-made book that graphically documents every single activity she did for every single hour of 2011. As an object itself, I would say the timeline is beautiful sculpture deserving to be in a design gallery.
Armed with many colored tapes, markers, scissors and other craft materials, Merel’s last year’s life unfolds on an accordion-like book, which expands over 300 feet long. The infographics are intrinsic, obsessive, and full of, some would say, “crazy” details: the friend she had lunch with, the time she went to bed, the miles traveled by bicycle or train, the hours working, every meal eaten and so on and so forth. But the obsessiveness doesn’t stop there. Merel also documented every shower taken (detailing if shampoo was used or not), all the times she sneezed, and each movie and television shows watched.
The result is fascinating, a project to be proud of and one that we are happy to share with you. Can you imagine? Now she can open any page and know exactly what was happening and why. I cannot wait to find out what she does next! In the meantime, enjoy and look (with envy) at this ingenious piece.
When we asked Merel to tell us about this project she said:
“I have to admit it: I am hooked on capturing data. Personal data. Visualizing everyday life in lines and colors. Remembering by translating emotional moments into clear and simple shapes. Ever since I was a little girl I make little drawings and infographics about things I’ve done. In December 2010 I decided to start capturing a whole year of my life in a timeline.
The people I meet, the hours I work, or sleep, and the moments I’m in transit are all portrayed by pieces of colored tape. The days are white and the nights are grey. Every centimeter is one hour, which gives the timeline a total length of almost 100 meters (approximately 300 ft.). The view from the frontside displays all the midnight moments before which I obviously never go to sleep. The view from the topside of this folded timeline shows the days getting shorter and longer with the seasons.
Now that 2011 is over and my timeline is finished I love the fact that I can look back on any moment of the year, but it’s kind of scary too; it makes it almost impossible to have secrets!”
Video filmed at Alfalfa Studio. Directed by Guillaume Boucher.