School of machines, making & make–believe

Facts and Fictions in the Age of Data

How can we create meaningful experiences using data to explore the facts and fictions of our modern-day lives? How can a thoughtful and more personal exploration of data visualisation and storytelling provide new ways of understanding the world around us and ourselves? In this four-week program we'll take a hands-on approach to exploring these questions and more in a variety of conceptual, digital, and physical formats.

  • / 2 November - 27 November 2015

  • / four weeks, full-time in Berlin, Germany

  • / Based in ACUD MACHT NEU Kunsthaus

  • / Only 6-10 participants accepted

  • / For pricing info, see FAQ

The relationship between data (information) and stories is rich and multi-layered. Now more than ever, questioning the origins of our data and how it is collected is essential to our understanding of it.

With an eye on perception, objectivity, critical thinking, analysis, misinformation and truth, we’ll examine data, and in turn data visualisation, in all its grotesque and beautiful facets, focusing on the finer details of how to pull a story from data and craft it into something meaningful.

Throughout the program, you’ll explore the seen and the unseen. You’ll go from conceptualising to sketching and playing with data, challenging yourself to interact with data in visceral and unconventional ways. You'll learn methods to collect and gather data both off- and online. Once you’ve established your dataset, you'll explore ways to communicate your story using layout and design. You’ll also learn how to take your data into the physical realm, creating objects using 3D printing and lasercutting techniques.

Each participant will have an opportunity to come up with a concept which is meaningful to them. By the second week we'll begin focusing on individual topics and research, learning how to gather and work with data significant to the project you are creating. The program culminates in an exhibition of your work in a final group show.

Whether you’re a designer who longs to integrate data into your work, a seasoned data analyst who wants to communicate data in more engaging and artistic ways, or you’re someone who simply dreams of working in the field of data visualisation and data storytelling and are seeking a creative and in-depth foundation from which to begin, we encourage you to join us!


  • Nicholas Felton

    Nicholas Felton spends much of his time thinking about data, charts and our daily routines. He is the author of many Personal Annual Reports that weave numerous measurements into a tapestry of graphs, maps and statistics reflecting the year’s activities. He was one of the lead designers of Facebook's timeline and the co-founder of

    His most recent product is Reporter, an iPhone app designed to record and visualize subtle aspects of our lives. His work is a part of the permanent collection at MoMA. He has also been profiled by the Wall Street Journal, Wired and Good Magazine and recognized as one of the 50 most influential designers in America by Fast Company.

  • Stefanie Posavec

    Stefanie Posavec works as a designer with a focus on data-related design, with work ranging from data visualization and information design to commissioned data art for a variety of clients. Her work has been exhibited internationally at major galleries including at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Centro Cultural Banco Do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), the Victoria & Albert Museum, Southbank Centre, and Somerset House (London).

    Currently she is in the midst of a year-long drawing project with Giorgia Lupi (based in NY) called Dear Data, where each week they get to know each other better by gathering and drawing data on a postcard to send to the other.

  • Miriam Quick

    Miriam Quick is a UK-based researcher specialising in data visualisation and information design. Her work has been published by, BBC and WIRED UK, among others.

    She has experience across the creative and commercial worlds and has collaborated with designers and developers on everything from static infographics to interactives, animations, installations and wearable data objects.

    She regularly collaborates with Stefanie Posavec as part of a researcher-designer team and together they have produced an array of data art pieces including an installation at London's South Bank Centre in 2015.

  • Maral

    Maral is a German designer with Iranian roots, living and working from London. If she’s not designing projects herself, she’s organizing them; With a huge passion to bring the international data design community closer together to encourage conversations about projects and problems, she’s recently joined the Visualized team.

    She believes that design has the potential to make relevant and important topics accessible. That’s why in the past few years her interest in human rights related stories and her involvement as a designer in this field grew significantly. Before joining Visualized she was Small Media’s Creative Manager, running an interdisciplinary, international team of creatives who work on Human Rights related projects.

  • Rick

    Rick is an Italian-Canadian Biologist living in Berlin. Since leaving active research at the beginning of 2012, he's dedicated himself to developing and hosting training programs for doctoral students in the life sciences.

    With a focus on scientific presentation, data analysis and visualisation as well as statistical literacy, Rick is at home at several high-profile institutes across Germany (including several Excellence Clusters and Max Planck Institutes).

    Rick brings his enthusiasm for science to the fore with engaging and relevant seminars that motivate young scientists to understand and communicate their research with a critical eye.

The Schedule

Stefanie Posavec will be with us during week one to cover concepts and theory, exploring esoteric and unusual places to find data, using her Dear Data project as reference. We'll have assignments, going out into the city to collect data and working towards a unique perspective on what to do with the data once we've got it.

Maral Pourkazemi will join at the end of the week to discuss her own work and share inspiration and highlights from the upcoming Visualized conference taking place in NY October 8-9.

Nicholas Felton will give an intensive two-day workshop over the weekend, sharing his own unique perspective on working with data. Following this, on Monday he'll be around to discuss one-on-one with students regarding the direction of their final projects.

Miriam Quick will spend the next two weeks sharing her in-depth knowledge as we begin developing creative concepts, research techniques, gathering and processing data from the web using scraping and API's, identifying relationships, finding stories and using visualising tools along the way. She'll also cover collaboration techniques when working with other designers and developers as a necessary part of the process.

Along with working with data inside the computer, we'll also explore what it means to take data out of it, learning to use lasercutting and 3D printing as a means to visualise data in the physical world.

There will be several guests and studio tours throughout the program. We'll visit and hear from some of Berlin's best talent working creatively with data, including StudioNAND and Onformative studios.

Data analyst Rick Scavetta will join to discuss the truths and untruths that data can tell. The Tactical Technology Collective, themselves dedicated to the use of information in activism will also join us as we delve into discourse about data ethics.

From week two onward, students will choose a topic to explore which will be used to guide their individual progress throughout the remainder of the program. At the end of the course, there will be a final exhibition of student work.

Instructors previous work:

Benefits and what you will learn:

  • - Exploring concepts: What is data? Why is data important?

  • - Data-collection in the physical world

  • - Developing creative concepts

  • - Defining typography and palette

  • - Intro to creating visualisations with code

  • - Finding data: data sources and formats, research techniques

  • - Getting data: data gathering, scraping, using APIs

  • - Processing data: cleaning and formatting

  • - Exploring data: asking the right questions, identifying relationships, finding stories, using visualisation tools

  • - Storytelling: presenting insights, using data creatively

  • - Data ethics: responsibility, honesty, transparency

  • - Collaborating with designers + developers

  • - Exploring bringing data into the physical realm with lasercutters and 3D printing

  • - Studio tour: StudioNAND

  • - Studio tour: Onformative

  • - Studio tour: Tactical Technology Collective

  • - Final show exhibiting our work

We offer a unique opportunity:
the freedom of being a beginner and the inspiration of great minds. Here we encourage you to indulge your curiosity with the guidance of experts. We're looking for students who are willing to take advantage of this special opportunity presented to them and ready to jump into the unknown.