Category Archives: Design

Data Visualization Tools


Gapminder – Statistics like you’ve never seen them before, thanks to Hans Rosling. Gapminder creates moving bubble charts so you can track the progress of different countries over time. It includes a huge number of indicators pre-loaded into the system, so you don’t even have to go looking for data.

Tableau Public – A great tool for making interactive charts. Data can be displayed in a range of different ways (geographic maps, heat maps, bar charts, bubble charts, etc) and related data can be linked together. The finished interactive charts can then be shared online. Includes geographic maps for Cambodia.

Prezi – Actually a presentation tool, but can also be used to make zooming charts. WARNING: Excessing use of Prezi can cause motion sickness.

Many Eyes – Lots of simple online tools for making quick visualisations of both quantitative and qualitative data.

Sources of data

International data

UN Data – The first place to look for all data collected by UN agencies.

Human Development Reports – Data on a wide range of development indicators. Can be viewed as interactive charts and also downloaded as tables.

WHO Global Health Observatory – Data on health indicators collected by the WHO. Available in a fully searchable database that can also be downloaded as tables.

World Bank Data Catalogue – A wide range of data collections on economic development, financial and other indicators.

Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index – Data on the perceived level of government corruption in countries.

OECD Query Wizard for International Development Statistics (QWIDS) – A searchable database on aid funds donated by OECD countries. You can search by donor country, recipient country, topic that the aid money was used for, and even compare aid commitments with the actual amount given.

Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration (2011) – Data on aid effectiveness indicators set during the Paris Declaration, including country level results for Cambodia.

Cambodian data

National Population Census– All the latest census data is available online in a searchable database. Includes a wide range of indicators, not just population figures.

CAMInfo – Data from many different surveys all in one searchable database.

Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey (CSES) – Data on a range of socioeconmic indicators such as poverty, education, labour, etc.

Cambodian Demographic Health Survey (CDHS) – Data on health indicators, and particularly health knowledge and behaviours, including fertility, family planning, adult and child mortality, nutrition, HIV/AIDS etc.

Cambodia Millennium Development Goals Reports – Data on all the MDG indicators, drawn from a range of sources.

CCC Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Contributions to the Development of Cambodia Report (2011) – Data on NGO operations in Cambodia, including the estimated number of NGOs and CSOs, focus areas, size of populations served, and budgets.

Violence Against Women Survey (2009) – Data on all forms of violence against women in Cambodia, including domestic violence and rape.

Program and cost effectiveness data

The Cochrane Collaboration – Systematic reviews of many different health interventions and programs.

The Campbell Collaboration – Systematic reviews on education, health and social policy and programs.

International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) – A great source of impact evaluations and systematic reviews on development programs.

Givewell – Conducts evidence based reviews of NGO programs.

WHO-CHOICE – A database of all WHO cost-effectiveness data, by region.

World Bank Independent Evaluation Group – Impact ratings for all World Bank programs completed since 1981. Can be viewed as a Tableau Public visualisation, or downloaded as tables.

TEDxPhnomPenh Venue Design

DONE. In collaboration with Collective Studio (stage, concept, coordination), Warren Daly – Invisible Agent and Dina Chhan – Artist (stairwell installation), Eva Hoffmann – Waste Not Cambodia and Bronwyn Blue – Beyond Interiors (entrance installation).

TEDxPhnomPenh Website. More photos of the event here.







Venue Concept

Alternative Mapping


Spatial Unmapped

Geographic maps aren’t the only means by which to communicate spatial information.  These alternatives to communicating geographic information revise space so that a singular focal point emerges, unfettered by the standard depiction of spatial entities.

The Quasi-Map

Styles I like to refer to as quasi-maps are data visualizations that evoke geographic patterns but don’t adhere to absolute space (i.e. space marked by measurable distances).  Like cartograms, the geography of this type of spatial visualization has been disassembled to the extent where the geographic entity is only recognizable when viewed as a whole.

Benjamin D. Hennig from the University of Sheffield has created hexagon mapping in which the United Kingdom’s geography was converted into hexagons representing the results of  individual constituencies in the British 2010 General Election.  As opposed to cartogram maps that seek to over or under-exagerate the size of an individual area based on a qualitative measurement, hexagon maps size each geographic area identically. For Hennings election map, the size of each constituency has been made equal, regardless of the actual geographic size of the area represented by any specific seat in parliament.  This enables smaller urban constituency areas to be clearly viewed that otherwise wouldn’t be visible on a straightforward geographic map.

2010 British General Election Results Hexagon Map. Created by Benjamin D. Hennig, University of Sheffield.

2010 British General Election Results Hexagon Map. Created by Benjamin D. Hennig, University of Sheffield.

The effect of using hexagon mapping can be highlighted when viewing a map that is geographically proportional as compared to the hexagon map as seen in these side by side maps from the BBC 2010 General Election Results site. As with Henning’s election map, the hexagon style of mapping out the results allows for detail in areas where the geographic extent is smaller to be elucidated.

Side by side comparison of a geographic map and hexagon map of the 2010 General Election results. Source: BBC.

Side by side comparison of a geographic map and hexagon map of the 2010 General Election results. Source: BBC.

Graphs as Space

It’s an easy step to move from geographic coordinates to a graph based visualization.  In 2008, then Harvard student and founder of the Radical Cartography site, graphed out the World’s population in 2000.  He looked at the sum of population at each degree both for latitude and longitude using two separate charts.  Plotting the degrees of latitude along the X axis and the total sum of population per degree along the Y showed amazing spikes in the world’s population.  Rankin found that 88% of the world population as measured in 2000 lived in northern hemisphere.  Rankin also graphed out population by degrees of longitude and found that on average, the world’s population lives 24 degrees from the equator.

Population histograms by latitude and longitude. Source: Bill Rankin, 2008.

Population histograms by latitude and longitude. Source: Bill Rankin, 2008.

Popular online comic strip cleverly weaves in geographic space with this Movie Narrative Charts strip showing time along the horizontal axis and the vertical group of lines to show when characters are together at a given time.

Movie narrative charts.

Click on image for larger comic.

Flow Map

In 1861, Charles Joseph Minard, a french engineer created his now famous flow map that graphed out the ill-fated march of 1812 by Napoleon’s soldiers to and from Moscow during the brutal winter months.  Minard’s graph, entitled “Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813″ vividly describes the flow and attrition of the troop movements in both space and time.  The chart begins at the Polish-Russian border where hundreds of thousands of troops in Napoleon’s Grande Armée began their march towards Moscow.  In Minard’s chart 422,000 begin the journey at the border in June of 1812, crossing the river Neman, as depicted by the brown band.  Early into the march, 22,000 soldiers are diverted in auxiliary movements.  Eventually 100,000 survive the march and battles along the way, reaching Moscow by September of 1812.  The black band visualizes the attrition of soldiers on the retreat, with the total survivors from the journey back totaling only 4,000 at the end.  An additional 6,000 survivors from the side journeys north joined those survivors to cross back over the river Neman, making the grand total of survivors 10,000 that made it back to Poland.

Edward Tufte, known for his many books on intelligent information design, declared in his 1983 book The Visual Display of Quantitative Informationthat the Minard graph “may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”  Tufte points out that the graph coherently plots the following variables: the size of the army, geographic location over time, the direction of the army, and the temperature change as the army retreated back towards Poland.

Click on graph for a larger image.

The graph shows not only the shrinking size of the army as it moved towards Moscow and subsequent retreat, but also the geographic path taken.  The actual march component of the graph has been georectified.  An example of the 1812 march route overlain onto Google Maps (complete with code) can be found on Stanford University’s ProtoVis site.

Napoleon's March of 1812 on Google Maps.

Napoleon’s March of 1812 on Google Maps.

The Minard graph has inspired many to replicate it and to experiment with revitalizing the data.  Michael Friendly of the University of York has a page with examples of therevisualization attempts along with data samples, R code, and more on his DataVis site.

Skyscrapers Threaten Olympic Stadium

And you know how I feel about the Olympic Stadium. Why does preserving the Stadium matter? Like us on Facebook. Tag us in your photos. Share your stories. Facebook here. and Photos here.
Local investment giant OCIC said it is planning to construct up to 10 more skyscrapers within the eastern part of the National Stadium compound, which the nest up land coming area in Phnom Penh Engineer Meng Chamroeun, an assistant to Touch Samnang Manager of the Diamond Island City project, said the company is currently digging and preparing the land for the construction of a 50-storey building three or four more than 30-storey buildings, and five or six 20-storey buildings, as well as an eight strorey supermarket.
“So far we haven’t yet completed the master plan, but the project will proceed as planned, and we expect the master plan to be completed by the end of May,” he said. He added that “we plan to complete this project within five years if it gains support from customers. But I think this project will be successful, as the location is in the central part of the capital, and we are planning to expand the roads in this area”.
Meng Chamroeun said the company plans to call the project PENH GRAGON, and it will contain hotels, restaurants, of fice space, condominiums, as well as supermarkets and other services. He added that they are currently digging out the subsoil for the construction of a six strorey supermarket with a two floor deep underground which will serve as a market. Sen Chanreatriey, the Director General of Real Estate Company CEA, said OCIC has a lot of long term customers amidst growing demand of buying and selling real estate in 2012, so the project is likely to gain a lot of support.
However, he said its success will depend on the pricing. If prices are reasonable, it will be successful but if it is seen as overpriced, it could run into problems “This project will give overseas investors the confidence to com and invest in this sector, because overseas investor are waiting to see what local investors do first, so if investor here start first, it will be good,” Sen said. “OCIC’s projects are all located in good locations, in Phnom Penh’s projects are all located in good locations, in Phnom Penh’s actively commercial areas,” he added. OCIC has obtained a 70 year lease from the government to develop the location.
Source: PhnomPenhPost

Waste Not Cambodia


Born out of Beyond Interiors in Phnom Penh, this project aims to bring smarter local recycling options to Cambodia. Through collaborations with local organizations, entrepreneurs, and affordable housing initiatives, we hope to introduce new options for locally-produced recycled products and affordable building materials.

We’re All Designers. Nope.

Design is a profession. Its own profession. With degrees. And professional certifications. Unless you have busted your ass as a designer, you know, designing things you do not get to call yourself a designer.

Knowing CPR does not make me a doctor. Knowing the law does not make me a lawyer. Writing a contract does not make me an MBA. And Dick Cheyney was not an ‘architect‘ of the war in Iraq. He was a corrupt politician. 



Excellent interview presented on The Marketing Fresh Peel last week (April 21). In it, Chris Wilson interviews author and thought leader Marty Neumeier on his new book The Designful Company. The author presents great, unapologetic opinions of companies who are “designful” in culture and action (the obvious, like Nike and Apple) and the not-so-designful but still deified (Coke, Microsoft, for instance). One piece of this conversation leaps out at me though. It’s a spot-on definition of design and its role in an organization:

We need to get past our view of the designer as a shaper of objects. The dictionary defines a designer as someone who plans an artifact or system of artifacts—in other words, the “posters and toasters” of the 20th century. This is too narrow. I prefer Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon’s definition: “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” In this definition, design is a way of thinking, and anyone in the company can be a designer, including the CEO.

Design thinking is about refusing to accept the easy answer. It’s about imagining new possibilities that weren’t on the table before, and prototyping those possibilities so they can be tested. It’s the difference between “deciding” the way forward and “designing” the way forward. Deciding only works in a stable market where innovation is a low priority.

Imagine the new company culture, no matter the company, defined around design thinking like this. It’s probably this country’s number one advantage (if our only real advantage) culturally going forward. We should be celebrating this concept in every concept and company.

And we should debate vigorously how we create cultures within companies that allow for this. Equal parts tension and inspiration, freedom and process, democracy and dictatorship. Can they live in harmony? I think so. You just have to have designers who are articulate enough and business savvy enough to have the hard conversations along the way. At the same time, you have to have a management team who understands that design is a process that takes time and space. All families should live together and learn from each other every minute of every day.

The result is a company that evolves in harmony with its market, not the lumbering Frankensteins that so many of us still are today.

Phnom Penh’s Cultural Revival


Tom Vater, Thursday 26 April 2012 13.22 BST

Phnom Penh’s Cultural Revival There’s more to Cambodia than its ancient sites, as visitors discover a newly thriving arts and music scene in the capital, Phnom Penh, with galleries, clubs and cafes springing up

Gobshite and Prolyfik perform at Tiger Translate, Cambodia

Gobshite & Prolyfik perform at the Tiger Translate festival, Cambodia

“Welcome to the Penh my friend, big city in the kingdom of wonder, where all the streets are numbered and when it rains it thunders, them smiles stay infectious, chaps asleep in their cyclos or pushing a Lexus.”

Thus rhymes artist Grant Massey in his ode to the Cambodian capital. Massey hails from Leicester and is one half of the Phnom Penh-based hip-hop duo Gobshite and Prolyfik (yes, you read it right – that’s Gobshite!). The other half is Chally Dang, a young Khmer who recently returned to Phnom Penh from Philadelphia, to bring, as he says, true hip-hop to Cambodia.

Their timing is just right. Cambodia’s riverside capital is on the rebound. After little more than a decade of peace following 40 years of war, the city of two million is recapturing some of its early 20th-century flair. Foreign visitors drawn to Cambodia by its ancient monuments are discovering a thriving contemporary cultural scene with arts cafes, clubs and galleries springing up all over town.

Meta House (, a large art gallery, rooftop cinema and restaurant housed in a gleaming white 500 sq m space in the heart of the city, has been at the forefront of raising the profile of Cambodia’s contemporary artists.

“The contemporary arts and music scene really kicked off five years ago,” says Nico Mesterharm, founder of Meta House. “Since then we have had more than a 100 exhibitions presenting contemporary Khmer art.”

Java Arts Cafe, Phnom Penh, CambodiaJava Cafe galleryDown the road from Meta House, Java Cafe ( serves as both cafe and gallery and presents equally interesting artists, such as Mao Soviet, who is currently showing Cloudy and Loud, a light sculpture exhibition created in collaboration with American artist Arnoldo Hurtado, in which the idea of illuminating (both physically and metaphorically) is explored (until 13 May). The fact that Java Cafe turned from a non-profit setup into a business in 2008 is an indicator of the increasing bankability of Cambodian artists.

Just as fascinating, though more specialised, is Bophana (, an audio-visual centre set up by renowned Cambodian film director Rithy Phan to archive images and sounds of the Cambodian memory. Rare Cambodian films such as Kou Oy Chok Chheam (Painfulness), made in 1966, are showing throughout April.

And there’s more. Take a walk down Street 178, behind the National Museum, a road once lined with shops exclusively selling garish depictions of Angkor Wat, and you’ll find a number of new art galleries showcasing emerging local artists. One of the country’s best known is Em Riem who runs La Galleria. The 34-year-old artist, who was born and raised in the Cambodian countryside until the age of 15 and experienced the Khmer Rouge period with his family, has had his work shown in the US, in Colombia, France, Hong Kong and London.

The artistic community’s work has tended to draw heavily on the Khmer Rouge period, but subject matters are changing. Sa Sa Art ( gallery on Street 360 is run by a group called Stiev Selapak – the art rebels – who are currently working on The White Night, a community art project with the residents of The White Building, an infamous slum landmark in the Cambodian capital.

White Mansion Hotel, Phnom Penh, CambodiaWhite Mansion HotelEm Riem, too, is broadening his artistic horizon, moving away from the country’s dark history to help redesign the former US Embassy, now the smart boutique White Mansion Hotel (rooms from £51), which offers huge rooms and an attractive blend of Khmer designs, harking back to the 1,000-year-old Angkor era architecture. Riem’s work – his own brand of modernist furniture and sculpture infused with historic Khmer characteristics – is exhibited in the hotel’s lobby and suites.

Phnom Penh’s music scene has also been given a serious shot in the arm by an influx of young foreigners and Cambodians who grew up outside the country, mixing it up with local artists. In 2002, Hollywood actor Matt Dillon shot City of Ghosts, an affectionate, dark portrait of post-war Phnom Penh. The movie’s soundtrack featured music from the 1960s – Khmer rock’n’roll. Most of the artists of the period were killed by the Khmer Rouge and it’s only now that the country’s pop cultural heritage is enjoying a resurgence.

For the past couple of years, The Cambodian Space Project, a rock band founded by the charismatic female singer Srey Thy and Australian band leader Julien Poulson, have taken their reinterpretations of the country’s 1960s sound around the world – the band have just returned to Cambodia from their second tour of Australia and have also performed in the US, Europe, Hong Kong and China in the last two years. Visitors to Phnom Penh might be lucky and catch them at music venues such as the French-managed balcony bar-cum-exhibition space Equinox ( or Mao’s Pub (, a new nightclub located near Wat Phnom on the city’s riverfront.

The Cambodian capital is beginning to host larger events too. In February, Preap Sovath, the nation’s biggest superstar, performed live in the city’s historic railway station. The 36-year-old collaborated with several foreign artists, as part of the second Tiger Translate art and music festival. Preap sent his favourite songs to British reggae-popsters Will and The People and several other bands, who performed with the heartthrob crooner in front of a 2,000-strong crowd.

Tiger Translate Phnom Penh – one of a global series of events designed to give Asian artists a platform, while offering them opportunities to work with western creatives – is indicative of the Cambodian capital’s flirtation with contemporary cosmopolitan flair. In its own unique way, the “Pearl of Asia” is coming of age once more.

Environmental Activist Chut Wutty Shot Dead


Environmental Activist Chut Wutty Shot Dead May Titthara and David Boyle Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cambodia’s most outspoken activist against illegal logging was shot dead yesterday while escorting journalists near a protected forest in Koh Kong province, where he has repeatedly attempted to expose illegal logging rackets that include military officials.

Chut Wutty, the director of Natural Resource Protection Group, was killed after military police apprehended him at Veal Bei in Mondul Seima district on behalf of a company that asked them to stop him from shooting photos of their development, military police spokesman Kheng Tito said.

“And the company asked the military police in that area to come to intervene, and later on, the shooting happened,” he said, adding that this had occurred at about 12:30 in the afternoon. He said that military police officer In Rattana, 31, was also killed in the shooting.

While he said he could not confirm it, he told the Post he believed it was possible that Chut Wutty had been armed, but was unable to say who fired first because he had yet to receive a report from his officers.

Two journalists from the Cambodia Daily that were travelling with Chut Wutty, Phorn Bopha and Olesia Plokhii, had been detained by military police, said the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Kevin Doyle, who called for their safe return.

They remained in “the company of the army or military police in the forest,” he said.

Rights group Licadho immediately dispatched investigators, and the organisation’s Koh Kong provincial coordinator, In Kong Chet, said that after talking to ballistics police, he had established that Chut Wutty was shot as he tried to drive away from the military police.

“Mr. Chut Wutty went to shoot a photo in a place where a lot of trees were being cut and then one military police came asking him for the memory [card] from him,” he said.

He alleged that In Rattana threatened to shoot a defiant Chut Wutty and opened fire with an AK-47 when he attempted to drive his car away, but was also killed when a bullet ricocheted off the vehicle.

“The first bullet hit Wutty’s knee and [In Rattana] continued hitting his stomach, so that caused Wutty’s death, and other two bullets hit Wutty’s car and ricocheted hitting Rattana and killing him,” he said, adding he had examined their dead bodies.

Thong Narong, Military police chief in Koh Kong province, said his officers were still investigating the case.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said he also could not confirm details but that it was very regretful if Chut Wutty had indeed been shot.

“If it’s true, personally, I share my condolences with his family,” he said.

The group was reportedly travelling toward the Stung Atai dam in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district where Chut Wutty had alleged that the company licensed to clear the area, MDS Import Export, had conspired with military and forestry administration officials to illegally log.

Chut Wutty had been the country’s most vocal critic of the military’s alleged role in illegal logging conducted by companies granted land concessions in protected forests and related government corruption.

Last December, after being repeatedly apprehended by military police after escorting the Post to the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in southwestern Cambodia, Chut Wutty asked for his photograph to be taken fearing he could soon be killed.

His younger brother Chheuy Wutty said his brother’s body will be repatriated to Svay Meas village, his home town in Vihear Sour commune, Kchlach Kandal district, Kandal province.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at and David Boyle at

Phnom Penh Transit Authority

Gas prices in Cambodia at at all time high (This week I paid $1.37/litre or $5/gallon). Maybe it’s time to revisit the potential for public transit in the Penh?

Check out my students’ proposals for a Phnom Penh Transit Map and bus stops for the (thus far) fictional Phnom Penh Transit Authority.  We discussed at length – Will Phnom Penh Ever Get a Bus System?  and they offered up great comments about what would need to happen for public transit to work in Phnom Penh (considering the 2003 failure to launch public buses).  Apparently the city is currently looking for public bus investors – maybe the future will look a little bit like this:

More student work at City of Water Studio.