Curiosity Expert: Richard Saul Wurman
Architect, Author, Designer, TED Conference Creator
Described by Fortune magazine as an "intellectual hedonist" with a "hummingbird mind," Richard Saul Wurman has always sought ways to make the complex clear. He has written, designed and published 82 books on topics ranging from football to health care, to city guides, but he likes to say that they all spring from the same place – his ignorance.
Wurman's first book, published when he was 26, featured models of 50 world cities on a uniform scale. Wurman's latest book is called 33: Understanding Change & the Change in Understanding. It chronicles the adventures and musings of an eccentric (yet oddly familiar) character: the Commissioner of Curiosity and Imagination.
Wurman created the ACCESS city guides, using graphics and logical editorial organization to make places such as New York, Tokyo and Rome understandable to visitors. Other volumes he created focus on topics such as baseball, football and the 1984 Olympics. His road atlases employed similar techniques to elucidate U.S. geography and transportation networks.
Wurman created the TED conference in 1984, bringing together many of America's clearest thinkers in the fields of technology, entertainment and design. He also created the eg conference in 2006 and continues to co-chair the annual TEDMED meetings, which he began in 1995. He chaired the IDCA Conference in 1972, the First Federal Design assembly in 1973, and the annual AIA Conference in 1976.
Now in his 76th year, Wurman continues to quell his restless intellect with a slough of new projects. In September, 2012, his WWW.WWW conference will be an active gathering of the world's greatest minds discussing the complexity of emerging patterns on our planet. 19.20.21, in partnership with ESRI and @radical.media, endeavors to standardize a methodology for understanding comparative data on 19 cities that will have 20 million or more inhabitants in the 21st century. His Urban Observatories project aims to establish, for the first time ever, a series of live and changing electronically connected urban observatories around the world. Using a diagrammatic matrix of five countries, 5X5X5 is an overview of global healthcare that examines five medical events, five net worth or income percentiles, and five age brackets.
Wurman received both his M. Arch. & B. Arch. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, from where he graduated in 1959 with the highest honors, was awarded the Arthur Spayd Brooks Gold Medal and two graduate fellowships as well as a doctorate of fine arts by the University of Arts in Philadelphia.
Wurman now lives in Newport, RI with his wife, novelist Gloria Nagy, and their three biblical yellow labs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.