Boris Müller

Interface & Interaction Design





Poetry on the Road 2005

Medium: Print
Year: 2005
Client: Poetry on the Road
Team: Petra Michel, Boris Müller, Florian Pfeffer

Poetry on the Road is an international literature festival which is held every year in Bremen, Germany. From 2002 — 2013, I was commisioned to design a visual theme for the festival. While the theme itself was changing, the underlying idea for the visuals was always the same: All graphics were generated by a computer program that turned texts into images. So every image is the direct representation of a specific text. The design and the development process were a collaboration with the design agency one/one.

In 2005, we choose a very “organic” approach to visualise the poetry of the festival. We developed a concept, where an entire poem was considered to be a tree-like structure, that would branch out over the page. Attached to these branches are the words of the poems - represented by leaves.

I was visually inspired by L-System algorithms. However, it did not make sense to use any recursive algorithms. But I picked up the idea that certain symbols in a text would control the growth of the tree. Specific letter-combinations would create a new branch, others would make it grow stronger. So the final tree-structure would be a direct result of the letter sequence in the text. Therefore, every poem is represented by its own, distinct tree.

The words in the poems are visualised as leafs. Here the rules are very simple. The amount of letters in a word is represented by the number of spikes on a leaf. The word »poetry« would therefore be represented by a leaf with 5 spikes. Furthermore, the letter sequence in a word also controls the overall shape of a leaf - the roundness of the shapes, the length of the spikes and the density of the colour. The size of the leaves depends on the length of the poem.

The colours are full Pantone colours - the brown leaves are actually gold! And the printed green is more or less like you see it on screen.

On the final poster, all poems of all authors were transformed into a dense forest of poetry.

The 2005 edition of
Poetry on the Road