Book Of Trees


Designer and visual complexity expert Manuel Lima comes to the Strand -NYC legendary book store, 24 April, 2104, at 7 pm. Manuel Lima is an artist at the forefront of the world of information visualization. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, was nominated by Creativity magazine as “one of the 50 most creative and influential minds of 2009,” and is the author of the best-selling Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information. Now, with his newest work: The Book of Trees, Manuel delivers a companion volume in which he once again presents the art and history of visual information design in a collection of stunning images. Manuel will speak on his work in the field of visual complexity and sign copies of The Book of Trees.

Trees are one of the most ubiquitous religious symbols across the world. From ancient Sumer to Christianity, from the Maya civilization to Buddhism, there’s hardly a human society over the ages that hasn’t associated trees with some sort of celestial and religious power. The omnipresence of such a revered symbol reveals an inherently human fascination with trees that goes well beyond sacred devotion. Due to its expressive quality and natural branching scheme, trees have also become important communication tools, illustrating a variety of topics such as family ties, moral values, systems of law, domains of science, biological species, healing modalities, hard disk drives, database schemas, and online discussions. As a direct embodiment of hierarchy and multiplicity, the allegorical tree figure has lasted hundreds of years as one of the most enduring archetypes in the history of visual communication.


Manuel Lima’s illustrated history The Book of Trees chronicles how Medieval-era designers instinctively used trunk and branch diagrams to impose order on the explosion of new data. One millennium later, tree-based graphics continue to pack considerable punch as information delivery systems. “Today’s tree-based graphics have no resemblance to a real tree,” Lima says. “It’s like they’ve almost become a separate exotic species. In the design community, you’ve only reached perfection when you’ve removed everything that’s unnecessary. By eliminating all the leaves and branches to arrive at these super-clean graphics, it opened up a huge path of discovery when it comes to data visualization.”

Book_Manuel_01The Book of Trees: Visualizing branches of Knowledge, by Manuel Lima, Hardcover, 208 pgs, Published by: Princeton Architectural Press, April 2014.

The Book of Trees covers over 800 years of human culture through the lens of the tree figure, from its entrenched roots in religious medieval exegesis to its contemporary, secular digital themes. With roughly 200 images the book offers a visual evolutionary history of this universal metaphor, showing us the incremental adoption of a stylized, abstract construct, as well as a recent emergence of new visual models, many employing advanced computer-generated algorithms. Ultimately, this book makes visualization a prism through which to observe the evolution of civilization.