:: blog ::

Born with a copper spoon…

It looks like a regular plant, but upon touching it, it feels like a succulent (which is it.) The beautiful Copper Spoons (Kalanchoe orgyalis) is a delight. The new leaves are a deep copper, then fade as they age. The underside is an oatmeal cream color. I love how the older leaf green looks like the patina of oxidized copper. The felty, stiff leaves are spatulate (aka: spoon shaped) and the flat petiole makes the resemblance to an actual spoon that much stronger.

For layout, I wanted to express the three languages of communication: words, pictures and numbers. I introduced this term in a talk on metrics for product design in 2017. But even before then, this concept was fundamental to how I taught visual note-taking (sketchnoting,) visual communications, and product design.

I call these the three languages. I’ve learned that to truly understand something, I need to look at it through very different lenses. The three languages has held me in good stead and forced me to understand something in multiple ways.

Talk at UXI, May 2017, Portland OR, Finding the Narrative in Numbers
Slide from metrics presentation, 5/2017

(Jack Laws also refers to these as “writing, drawing and quantification.”)

So 3 languages layout + lovely addition to our indoor-plant-o-sphere = this week’s Plant Portrait.

Notes on the sketch show information from observation and the Internets. 🙂


I learned about Copper Spoon plants in general, but also our special little one. By closely examining it by feel and with a magnifying loop, I was drawn into the beauty of this plant.

I was surprised at how interesting it was to count things. And also, how challenging and frustrating measuring can be! The leaves are fragile and I didn’t want to tear any off by bumping them.

Next time…I’d like to document more about the plant…more details of the habitat and any indigenous uses it might have. And maybe play around with a grid layout.

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