The United States, along with Liberia and Myanmar, are the only countries in the world that have not adopted the International (metric) System. That system, however, was only created in the 18th century, and became widely adopted only in the 20th century. So what were the standards before that?
In the Markmaking and the Graphic Narrative class, Brazilian designer Leila Santiago created a book of illustrations introducing some of these ancient measurements. Focusing on those based on the human body, the project was inspired by the designer's experiences as a foreign designer learning a new measurement system in the US.
Measurement systems are so present in our lives that we don’t even notice them. Yet they are there—when you check the weather, when you buy groceries, when you're driving.
When I moved to New York for my master's program, I found it difficult to discuss formal specifics with my classmates around our projects—“Should it be 5 feet deep, or 6?” I didn't know; in essence, I was having to learn the basics again.
Conducting more research, along with creating new illustrations and pushing the typography, Leila looks forward to creating a second book about measurement systems based on market measurements. (For example: In ancient cultures, it was common to use measurements based on the size and weight of grains such as rice and corn.)