The NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual closed yesterday on Kickstarter having raised an amazing $802,812 as design junkies flocked to support a somewhat unlikely crowdfunding home-run. Over 6700 backers joined Pentagram designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth to fund a reissued book dedicated to Massimo Vignelli, Bob Noorda, and the Unimark staff. The $108,000 was beat in the first couple of days in this campaign.
As the story goes, in the 1960s New York City signage for urban transit was a mess. “If you found yourself in the New York City subway in the 1960’s you were probably lost”. Transit authorities recognized the enigma and signed up Unimark to address issue. Four years later they produced a manual that has defined NYCTA graphics to this day. “In 1970, the standards manual changed everything”.
In 2012 the Pentagram designers stumbled upon a manual and they quickly realized the value. They created a web site sharing their find but realized the site could not quite do the manual justice and thus the crowdfunding project was born to reproduce the manual – in limited quantity.
Described as “astonishingly beautiful” and a “testament to the quality of work that, 44 years later, the signage holds up”, the manual is a beacon of modern design. Simplicity and elegance does not mean easy and Vignelli and Noorda clearly created something worth saving and worth recognition. Their detailed approach to signage and design has thus saved the millions of commuters from daily confusion – something pretty cool.
In the crowdfunding world of records, the NYCTA Graphics Manual now stands as the most funded graphics design project ever on the Kickstarter platform.
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