Boris Müller

Interface & Interaction Design





Poetry on the Road 2006

Medium: Print
Year: 2006
Client: Poetry on the Road
Team: Andrea Schaffors, 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.

Poster and Detail

This year, our concept is based on a very old concept of encoding text. We assigned a numerical value to every letter of the alphabet. Adding the values of all letters, one gets a number that represents the overall word. (For example, the number 99 would represent the word “poetry”.)

Using this system, an entire poem could be arranged on a circular path. The diameter of the circle is based on the length of the poem. So you can see the short poems in the centre of the poster, while the longer ones form the outer circles.

Red rings on the circular path represent a number. As many different words can share the same number (poetry shares the 99 with words like thought and letters), most rings represents different words. The thickness of the ring depends on the amount of words that share the same number.

Finally, gray lines connect the words of the poem in their original sequence. So solid lines represent repetitive patterns in the poem.

Detail from the key-visual. Note the dark line that connects several rings. It represents a line in a poem that is continuously repeated.


Like in the years before, the computer program was not only used to generate the image for the poster. It was also used for brochures and the cover of the book that accompanies each festival. Furthermore, the program was used to generate the divider pages in the book. So the poems of each writer are introduced by an abstract visual representation of themselves.


The following video is a screencast from the Java app – it explains the concept quite well: