Templo teams up with the United Nations to give its latest climate research a cohesive visual identity

Whilst at first difficult to parse the complex research, Templo came to understand “that over the last year there had been ten key events around the world that were intrinsically interlinked via four main topologies; root causes, underlying drivers, impacts and emerging risks.”

3 November 2021


London-based branding and digital agency Templo has always had a strong ethical focus. It’s why Pali Palavathanan founded the agency several years ago, and it’s why we’ve been more than happy to cover its success over the last few years. “After around eight years in design I began to feel a real disconnect with the creative industry’s concept of ‘design for good,’” Pali tells It’s Nice That. He felt his childhood growing up as a refugee and “everything that comes with that experience of poverty, homelessness, inequality and migration,” was adding to his sense of alienation in the industry, prohibiting what he really wanted to express. “I found genuine opportunities to create meaningful change few and far between, so in the end I felt that I had no choice but to set up Templo.” In doing so, Pali allowed himself – and others just like him – the creative space to “focus on projects that the industry had no interest in otherwise devoting time and energy to.” Its impressive client list of the United Nations, Migrant Help, Plymouth College of Art and the Climate Change Committee reflects Pali’s ongoing commitment to this ethos.

Now, Templo has perhaps taken on their most ambitious project. Working with United Nations, Templo has visualised interconnected disaster risks from a wealth of research conducted by the UN. It’s a visual identity for the think tank’s research, which draws on data about severe weather events, epidemics and human-made disasters becoming increasing global and all the more challenging to keep pace with its impacts. “This was one of the rare projects where the climate scientists insisted on close collaboration directly with the design agency,” Pali says. “This involved proper co-creation with regular weekly and sometimes daily check-in points.” It was an excitingly unique project for Templo to take on, as the team found the UN’s comms team sat back and allowed Templo’s team and the climate scientists of the project to have complete creative freedom together. “This interaction came very early on as the data was being compiled so the science got to inform the design but also the design thinking could inform the science,” Pali explains.

GalleryTemplo: UN Interconnected Disasters (Copyright © Templo, 2021)

What is left is a beautifully scientific 3D rendering that aligns with the UN’s overall visual aesthetic as much as it compliments the data at-hand. “While we were getting to grips with the data and research, we were also exploring visual concepts that allowed a broad, global audience to easily understand the findings,” Pali explains on the process of creating the renderings. “We needed to find a quick visual entry point, so we flipped the data on its head.” The team visualised the converging ‘disaster events’ of the research through their monochromatic 3D renders, and then “showed where these interconnections were occurring in terms of topology.” In the images above, we can see how the main event is highlighted in blue and “merged together with the other events with the same shared topologies.” The interconnections of these events are consequently shown by colliding these images together. “These ‘collisions’ are then supported by additional text detailing the specific topology that is connected with,” Pali adds. “For example, Texas Cold Wave and Beirut Explosion both share the same root cause of ‘prioritising individual profits’ which means Templo could have been prevented/mitigated by investing in infrastructure and procedures.” It’s a fascinating fact that Pali teaches us here, whilst also demonstrating how he and Templo have been able to streamline this information to incredibly digestible content. “By communicating how each of these root causes come about, the UN University will help governments and policy makers around the world identify patterns to prevent future avoidable disasters.”

In such a way, Templo’s work here demonstrates how art and design can actively affect and benefit the ongoing ecological crisis of our times. It proves that no skillset nor collective of people goes to waste in the bid to sustain a better climate. “The general public have the ability to dive deeper into the data via the ‘explore’ section of the website which visualises over 500 interconnections and even further with the various technical reports that support the main report,” Pali says. But, Templo wasn’t always so forthcoming in their ecological endeavours. “We were initially hesitant to enter the climate change space,” Pali explains. “On one hand we didn’t want to add to the noise of hollow instagram squares preaching to the converted, but on the other we could see from afar that the issue would benefit from clear communications.” Templo therefore settled on knowing that it would only enter the space if it “partnered with scientists and experts in the field,” going direct to the facts, as aided by their relationship with the Climate Change Committee in the United Kingdom.

“I would like to see agencies being braver and more principled,” Pali says when asked if creatives are doing enough to address the crisis. “So often studios work on climate campaigns only to take on a client that is a direct contributor to the climate crisis in the next breath.” Here, Pali touches on a recurring trouble that we’ve noticed many creatives have taken stock of. How much cognitive dissonance needs to be involved from one client or project from the next? “There is so much virtue signalling and hypocrisy in our industry it can be quite frustrating at times,” Pali adds. “I feel like the climate crisis is one of those instances where we need to be more black and white. Either you’re a part of the solution or you’re not.”

GalleryTemplo: UN Interconnected Disasters (Copyright © Templo, 2021)

Response & Responsibility – Cop26

During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26. 

Read the full series

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Templo: UN Interconnected Disasters (Templo, Copyright © 2021)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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