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Helvetica and the New York City Subway System – The True (Maybe) Story (Anglais) Relié – 18 février 2011

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Book by Shaw Paul

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Format: Relié
Non-creative folk might be perplexed to understand how a typeface could generate 132 fascinating pages but here they and it's a riveting read. The chapter titled `Bringing order out of chaos' sets the scene with a brief description of the rather slapdash style of signage on the huge New York subway system over the decades. The next chapter looks at signage in Boston, England and Italy, mostly from the sixties onwards (so Harry Beck's map and Edward Johnston's typeface for the London Underground aren't included). The various transit systems had, by now, settled on a sans face loosely based on Standard Medium and in New York this eventually evolved into Helvetica over the years.

I always thought it odd that designers didn't take standard Medium plus Bold or other sans (the Franklins, News Gothic, Venus et cetera) and just use them without modification. Letter and line spacing seems as important as the typeface in signage. The examples shown in the book have all been made into new faces. Maybe designers feel they must leave their individuality on these projects.

It wasn't until the mid-sixties that the transit people decided to get to grips with a unified type, graphics and signage system. Designer Massimo Vignelli and Unimark suggested ideas but amazingly, because of money problems, not too much came of the recommendations. It seems clear though that whatever outsiders suggested would have problems because of the way signs were produced. The Transit Authority had their own internal unit for making signs and the type stencils for some of these were actually cut by hand. Design manuals specifying all sorts of character and spacing refinements evaporated in reality.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.1 étoiles sur 5 14 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Sign of the Times? 2 juillet 2012
Par Kim Seale - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book may easily fall into the category of "everything and more than you ever wanted to know" about the use of typeface or letter styles in the New York City Subway system. On the one hand, it is easy to dismiss this as simply a study of the evolution of a specific font. However, when considered in the overall context of the evolution of the subways of New York City into the current Metro system, it is clear that just like the MTA, what we see today in the signage is a fascinating history of designed plans, some political muscle and a good bit of coincidence.

In a similar vein to those who study the rolling stock or expansion of the route of the NYC Subway over the years, a variety of people may find this book intriguing. People with interests in architecture, graphic design, marketing, history and/or the subway system itself should enjoy this book. It may get tedious partway through, since it tends to get bogged down in minute details. So, trust your instincts about your level of interest. As much as I love the NYC Subways, I would not buy an in-depth study of train engines and propulsion systems, since that's just not my thing. However, if signage as artwork IS your thing, you ought to get this book!
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Real-World Duels with the Client Bureaucracy 27 avril 2011
Par Dezcom - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Most often, books on design, present a lovely completed vision of the final product with all their flaws Photoshopped away like a centerfold image. Those of us who have tilted at windmills know the real story behind working with the quagmire of complex institutions.
Paul Shaw has forsaken the "healing tool" in favor of a look at the design process, blemishes and all. He shows us battles lost as well as won. The New York Subway system did not begin life as a well orchestrated plan that was delivered as composed with a single downbeat. There were numerous conflagrations among the many involved factions from planners, designers, local governments, businesses, and unions. What we see today on a subway platform in NYC is a semi-pealed onion revealing layers of history.
Paul makes a fine story of the toils and shows images from all facets of the century-long project still in progress. He jokingly adds "maybe" after True Story in the subtitle but we all know such a story could not be invented. The book is a combination lesson in history, sociology, commerce, and 100 year turf-wars, the stuff real design projects are made of.
My only small quibble with the book is that the layout can be a bit confusing to follow sometimes. This may be because there are so many intriguing illustrations and footnotes that you forget where you were reading. This is hardly a problem though, rereading is a pleasant task and you find things you never knew were there--kind of like repeated trips on the New York subway.

By all means, take it for a ride or two.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Different Kind of Book on the NYC Subway 5 mars 2014
Par Corey D. Rosenberg - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Most books about the subway, deal with the history of the system and how it was built. This book focuses on something most of us neglect when we are down in the subway, its signs and placards. I discovered through this book that they have a history in itself that is as intriguing as its building. Must read for subway history buffs and graphic artists.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I highly recommend this book if you want to learn how all ... 22 octobre 2014
Par David Klein - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is a fascinating story that combines two of my passions: New York City and typography. I highly recommend this book if you want to learn how all of the New York City subway signage was designed.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Five Stars 20 janvier 2016
Par Courtney Newhouse - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is great book, especially for anyone with a design background! I would highly recommend!
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