September 12, 2014

NYCTA Graphics Manual

Pentagram designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth are kickstarting a one-time run of books representing showing scans of the original Graphic Standards Manual for the New York City Transit Authority. The manual covers the entire visual language for New York subway type, colors, layouts, iconography, map design, signage and everything else that makes up one of the most recognizable graphic systems in existence.

NYCTA Manual

The manual and the contained elements, were originally created by Unimark‘s Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda in 1970. This re-creation is being funded through a unique Kickstarter campaign, which is the only way to procure a copy. From the Kickstarter page:

In 2012—42 years after the Standards Manual was released—we discovered a rare copy in the basement of design firm Pentagram. Now, under an exclusive agreement with the MTA, we are scanning and printing every page in a full-size hardcover book. The MTA agreed on the reissue with one condition: it will only be available during this 30-day Kickstarter campaign. After this campaign, the book will never be reissued again.

The design elements for the New York subway system are something every designer has strong opinions about, but it’s hard to argue with its effectiveness. It is the first example I think of when planning a branding system, because it is the most ubiquitous, and perhaps strongest one I’ve seen. This book appears to be an excellent opportunity to inspect the details up close and have on-hand for reference.

The catalyst for the campaign was the popularity of a site created to archive the manual with photos of each page:

Check out the Kickstarter campaign here.