Design Projects

StarTalk design & animation direction

Working with Standard Broadcast and the StarTalk production team, as well as researchers and leaders at sponsor Brilliant, I hired for and led the design and animation efforts behind the relaunch of StarTalk starring Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic Chuck Nice. For the design of the show, we were limited by assets such as the hard-for-designers-to-love logo — but we paired it with a typeface that echoes the feel while pulling back a bit, let's say. Since the show is a mix of casual live action conversation and animated explainers, we devised a graphical framework that eases the transition between the two worlds, making them feel more integrated. The premiere episodes quickly blazed well past 1 million views, more than doubling former StarTalk records.

To document the 20-year history of Doctors Without Borders in Kibera, I was asked by the organization to design a 90-page book of photographs telling remarkable stories of transformation, both personal and collective. Kibera is famously known as the biggest slum in Africa, but this book paints a richer picture of a strong community that has come together to battle the once seemingly insurmountable HIV epidemic. Several of the former patients interviewed now work at the clinics Doctors Without Borders established. Quoting the book's introduction: "Through these narratives, we piece together a message about transformation — what it means to overcome challenges, and how the transformation of a single individual can go on to transform a whole community." The project was executed in just three weeks, with a limited budget.

Shown at the prestigious 2016 Venice Film Festival, followed by a U.S. theatrical release and Netflix acquisition in 2017, American Anarchist is a documentary feature film by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Charlie Siskel ("Finding Vivian Maier"). I was asked to design and animate the many shots in the film of documents, websites, and pages from The Anarchist Cookbook, the infamous book the film revolves around. We went for a very straight-forward, natural look, maintaining paper textures and inherent flaws in the materials. I came up with a unique process for improving the quality of very low-resolution documents, and also ended up designing the title of the film.

A cure for Hepatitis C has emerged, but the cost is out of reach for most people. Doctors Without Borders asked me to design images around this theme for a social media campaign. I took the opportunity to do some illustrative 3D modeling based on their concepts. The two pieces above quickly charted among their most successful assets in terms of views and interaction — with the gold bar image making their list of top 10 tweets of all time.

Working with the Melbourne-based visualization studio Flink Labs, I designed posters for display in hospitals across Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state. Flink built a back-end that feeds data into the poster design at regular intervals, so hospital staff can print up-to-date versions showing the performance of their unit relative to various comparative metrics. The poster on the left is the design chosen by the client in the end, while the graphics on the right were two of the many earlier configurations we experimented with.

High Arc is a consulting business whose founder fondly remembers her days as a good softball pitcher. She would throw high arc underhand pitches and watch them land square on the plate 40 ft. away for a strike. For the logo, I placed a ball ascending in a frame, rendered as simply as possible with a lot of air flowing through it. The frame hints at the implied wordplay of "high art," which again has relevance for the founder but also cements the idea of quality. The shades of blue in the color version are meant to invoke sky, and I tied the ball and its high arc to the written counterpart, while the frame is color-matched to the word "strategies," as they are similar and related concepts around structure and foundation.

Frog Pond is a TV and video production company in New York City specializing in documentaries. They wanted to avoid a cute mascot type of logo, and instead hoped for something simple and elegant. I created this peculiar, continuous symbol depicting the back of a frog's head in front of a pond horizon line. The logo is less about the frog and more about looking ahead towards something bigger — perhaps something beyond the pond.

Comic Sans Made Beautiful

As a bit of an irreverent side-project, I wanted to see if I could make anything aesthetically worthwhile out of Comic Sans. While I dislike the typeface as much as the next guy, I think hatred of ugly things gets tiresome. I'm much more interested in thinking about constructive potential, upcycling, and reframing. I set out on a series of experiments, working with Comic Sans as a raw material without worrying about the constraints of typographic conventions. Along the way I documented my steps, and Fast Company asked me to publish the project as an expert post on their Co.Design blog. Prints are available.

Origin, a major Australian energy company, hired Flink Labs to create a system of dashboards and visualizations showing various metrics around social media engagement. I art directed the project, and devised rules for how the dynamic elements should animate and how transitions should be handled, while Flink co-founder Ben Hosken expertly crafted all the functionality. The result is displayed on large screens hanging from the ceiling at the Origin headquarters. The big image above is a still from a dynamic dashboard, but we also created a modular display of ever-updating Instagram images with integrated statistics, a stream of relevant tweets, and a view of competitors' social media activities.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the membership organization that unites, represents and serves state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States. Ahead of a conference, but also intended for lawmakers, the nonprofit wanted an 11"x17" handout presenting some key facts about state and federal arts funding. Working primarily with Research Director Ryan Stubbs, I developed a collection of infographics that would work as a whole in print, but also as modular pieces for the web or projected presentations.

One of many designs for the CNNMoney iPad app, which I worked on as Art Director in 2011 and 2012, alongside Senior Designer Yuhua Lai and Creative Director Andrew Bergmann. We approached our mobile apps in a very uniform way across iOS and Android, focusing more on how to scale UI elements from small to medium to large screens.

Wood MIDI keyboard concept

Designed to look good in your home, this musical keyboard concept abandons the cheap spaceship look of most MIDI products in favor of serene simplicity. Pitch and modulation wheels are reimagined as tensioned faders at left, while more faders at top could be assigned to automation tasks. Click through to see video.


I did a music video for my own song "Lizzy," using very limited and perhaps not very impressive animation. But the art direction for the piece seems worth including here. The color palette and restrained illustration style feels like a mix of the feminine and masculine, appropriate for the song's subject matter. All the imagery revolves around or adheres to a centered, circular shape, a kind of rigid structure forced upon the video — again suitable for the dynamics the song attempts to describe.

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About Bård Edlund