‘102 HOURS’ illustrates Boston Marathon bombings through iconography

Tank Design, a Cambridge-based design firm, has created “102 HOURS,’’ a book using the simplicity of iconography to represent the events during and following the day of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“Icons strip away the sensationalism. There are no news anchors, no political pundits, just images to tell a story,’’ Tank Design explains on the book’s website. “With the events laid bare, certain themes rise to the surface – primal themes like heroism and violence, perseverance and privacy.’’

The idea for the book stemmed from a discussion about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, and the feelings that the news coverage over the course of the days following the bombings was unlike anything they had ever encountered.


“We were entranced by the media coverage, which was all at once mesmerizing, overwhelming, and confusing,’’ said Elanie Blais, a senior designer at Tank Design. “As designers, we pride ourselves on simplifying expression, and we thought it would be an interesting challenge to strip the story down to its purest form, to just a series of events with no words.’’

Tank Design’s office has been in Cambridge for almost 15 years, and many of the employees live there as well. The group found it especially surreal to learn that the two marathon bombing suspects lived in the area and went to schools nearby.

“When I learned how young the two Tsarnaev brothers were, I was struck by how important it is for us to give good mentors and role models for our kids,’’ Blais said. “We want to help solve the problem from its roots, at the community level, to help prevent something like last April from happening. There are plenty of ways to do that, but as designers, writers, and marketers, we have the most impact by using our communication skills and by mentoring others.’’

Blais and the team who worked on the book, including Tank’s Creative Director Andrew Smiles, writer Nathaniel Brewster, developer Jared Circosta, and a summer intern, hope readers will go through the book and remember the events of the Boston Marathon bombings as they experienced them, as well as be reminded of the details that they may have forgotten. “We want people to remember what happened, without sensationalizing the events,’’ Blais said. “Icons get across essential information with as little as possible. So in this way, we’re able to tell the story very succinctly.’’


Profits from the book will be donated to Youth Design, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that mentors high school students using art and design as a medium of expression.

“102 HOURS’’ is available at the ICA Store, Trident Booksellers and Cafe , Harvard Bookstore, and Porter Square Books, or visit www.102hours.com.

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