Kickstarter Project to Reissue Massimo Vignelli’s Masterpiece

Title page of the NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual (1970), by Unimark's Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. Photo: Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth.
Title page of the NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual (1970), by Unimark's Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. Photo: Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth.

Famed graphic designer Massimo Vignelli may have died earlier this year (see “Designer Massimo Vignelli, 1931–2014“), but a new Kickstarter project is looking to revive one of his most iconic works, the NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual (1970), Gothamist reports.

The project is the brainchild of designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth, who stumbled across a first edition of the Standards Manual last year in the basement of the design firm Pentagram, where they work. Created by Unimark’s Vignelli and Bob Noorda, the manual outlines the hierarchy of text and design for the New York City subway system, providing minutely detailed guidelines for the official typefaces, colors, and design for all signage. (Vignelli is perhaps best remembered for his divisive 1972 Subway Map.)

Inspired, Reed and Smyth scanned the entire document, making it available online at TheStandardsManual.com. Now, the pair have arranged a licensing agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the New York City subway system, to reprint the book in its original, massive size of 13.5 inches square and 7 pounds! Only a couple days into the month-long Kickstarter campaign, they have already more than doubled their $108,000 goal.

While that all seems like good news for graphic design nerds, there is, unfortunately, a catch. For whatever reason, “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” (as per the Kickstarter page).

Therefore, if you’re an aficionado of classic modern design, this is one Kickstarter campaign that you’d better shell out for. As of right now, the whole edition seems on track to sell out, with only 1,772 copies of the book available at the $118 backing level, and 234 at the $158 level, which includes shipping to Europe.


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