An Obsession with Disease Turns into Neckwear

GQ Magazine - Infectious Awareables

"The gonorrhea in red and black is my personal favorite. It just looks so classy," says Roger Freeman, talking about the red rosebud-like design on one of his neckties. "And plague-I'm sold out of plague in midnight. In the meantime, though, Ebola is in stock. "

Freeman's company is called Infectious Awareables ( ), and the cutesy name belies both his serious mission and the sinister cast of the products he sells. Freeman collects electron-microscope images of viruses and bacteria and turns them into patterns, which he then prints on silk ties.

"I'm a social entrepreneur," says Freeman. "I'd be lying if I told you I'm not in this to make money. But we have a purpose." The company donates a portion of its profits to charity, but the ties are also supposed to make you think: about disease prevention, safe sex and washing your hands.

And the ties are quite beautiful. Magnified 30,000 times, the Ebola virus looks civilized, not evil-an orderly arrangement of blobs pleasantly reminiscent of paisley. Next up, designs for anthrax and giardia.

November 1999

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