Inspiration Monday: Follow the Things

Part of a LEGO illustration of the production of Christmas toys. Leoging by Ellie Bird, part of the Follow the Things Project, Ian Cook et al.

Part of a lego illustration of the story behind the production of Christmas toys. Leoging by Ellie Bird, part of the Follow the Things Project, Ian Cook et al.

Ok so Leonora has gone away for the weekend (it looks lush, I’m very jealous) and I’m seizing the reins of Inspiration Monday for a week and taking it in a distinctly geography themed direction.

As you may know, I’m human geographer part of the designer/geographer collaboration that is Creative Data, and I never miss the chance to talk about how brilliant and useful cultural geography can be.

One of the many things that cultural geography does well is find ways to tell detailed, personal and important stories.

 

In that vein the Follow the Things (FTT) project gives us one of the finest (in my opinion) examples of public-focused cultural geography.  Brainchild of cultural geography superhero Ian Cook, FTT provides a novel way to find out about some of the interesting stories behind the commodities that make up our everyday lives. 

Visit FTT and you will find an extremely familiar looking, some may say amazonian, shop-front. This, however, couldn’t be more different to the jungle inspired Behemoth – you can’t buy anything here, but you can explore the stories of where all the things you have, need and want, come from.

From coffee, to human kidneys and the contraceptive pill, you can find commodity stories that will take you on an adventure around the globe.

Many of the stories are created by some of the super-clever undergraduate students at the University of Exeter, but the website also curates other sources, such as TV documentaries and newspaper articles.

And the best bit…some of the stories are presented using LEGO. Yes long before the University of Cambridge proposed their Professor of LEGO, FTT were using their LEGOlab to visualise the stories behind the commodities that are essential parts of our everyday world.

That’s all. Consumer Culture, Cultural Geography and LEGO, who could want more on a Monday afternoon?