Innovation Research and Design



Innovation Research, Design Development

Man & Measurement

Design research about the historical metric measurement system and design concept to adapt the metre to future perspectives and digitalisation.

1 mm

How long is 1 metre?


A new uniform system of measurement should be a major step forward for trade and science. Napoleon Bonaparte initiated the search for a unit of measurement that would be based on scientific calculations. The research for the metre took over four years and was finally "estimated" with the then assumed correct value. Science wanted a sensible solution that everyone could be satisfied with, politics wanted international trade and the population wanted to keep their simple system (cubit, foot, a handful). Paris was the first city to impose the metric system of measurement on its retailers and therefore installed six etalons in the entire city for them to align with.


Today, everyone knows how to use a ruler from school. But today, a ruler is no longer needed in most situations. Because the world has become digital.



What is the future of the analogue system of measurement?


And what would be a digital alternative, for example for designers?

Ruler with the measurement system mm and px/dpi

The research discovered that different disciplines require a special kind of ruler and unit. This and each person cause an individual relationship between the user and the product. I created new approaches how to use a ruler, focused on the analogue process of measuring. The innovative rulers base on the original designs made in1950th until today. The precious materials are copper, walnut wood, and engraved leather.


The digital rulers can be attached underneath the computer screen and use the measurement unit Pixel (px) in relation to the size and resolution (dpi) of the display.


The publication combines most expressive researched facts, the outcomes of the artistic approach and the introduction of the new analogue and digital rulers.

The research started to focus on the history of the metric measurement system and the importance on the current society. An interview with a physicist of the German institute that researches on the correct measurements of the metre gave insights on the scientific need of the metric measurement system.

Artistic approach

Exhibition in the library of the HFBK, 2016

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