Big, Light, and Beautiful

House friend Janet Echelman on translating data into art and taking imagination seriously

Credit: Studio Echelman

If you are taking an extended trip in Portugal this November, be sure to check out House friend and artist Janet Echelman’s gorgeous sculpture in Porto, pictured above. (Fun fact: The sculpture has become the single icon representing the country of Portugal on Google Earth)

Credit: Google Earth

Janet found her true voice as an artist when her paints went missing on a trip to India. Inspired by the billowing nets of the local fishermen, she reimagined their billowing shapes into monumental, fluidly moving sculptures that respond to environmental forces such as wind, water, and sunlight.

Her work combines cutting-edge technology with traditional hand craft techniques that delight and inspire on the level of beauty and in the engineering behind them. Her collaborators run the full spectrum — from aeronautical engineers, traditional lace makers, to industrial fishnet factories — even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Take for example “1.26” (below), a stunning visualisation of the waves of a recent earthquake and tsunami that sped up the planet’s rotation and shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds. Janet translated the data from the tsunami into a sculpture, celebrating the interconnectedness of the 35 nations of the Western hemisphere for the Biennial of the Americas in Denver.

Tsunami data (Photo: Studio Echelman)
Janet’s visualisation of the data. “1.26” in Denver (Photo: Studio Echelman)

Janet’s work is testament to the fact that big and beautiful dreams can be made real.

Hear more about her fascinating story below:

Get inspired at the House of Beautiful Business, November 3–10th, 2017 in Lisbon. Alongside fellow start-up founders, executives, nonprofit leaders, investors, writers, philosophers, scientists, designers, technologists, artists, and others, we will be discussing and prototyping how to lead with purpose and passion; how to build human companies and workplaces; and how to design for deeper connections in an age of exponential change.

The House will serve as salon, stage, and sandbox for people who are keen on rehumanizing business and exploring meaningful conversations around humanity and technology. You can find more information and buy tickets at: