An Obsession with Disease Turns into Neckwear

"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 (www.iAwareables.com ), 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.

LUKE BARR, GQ MAGAZINE
November 1999

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