Wartime World War II wings.
Bike Historical (and beautiful) bicycle head badges.
Soviet era I bought these enamel badges, pinned to a postcard, from a vendor on a Moscow street.
Police An essential addition to the uniform.
Scouting achievements I was in the scouts, but I didn’t earn anything like this number of merit badges.
I.D. The modern tag is very different from these twentieth-century analog predecessors.
Playing games Children like to be the sheriff etc.
VisCom Our School of Visual Communication (at Ohio University) has a simple “V” badge that we like to wear. There’s also a more detailed enamel version that is given to graduating students.
Photograph by Kate Stone (while a VisCom student): http://www.katestonephoto.com
This small book (with a lot of pages) gives an overview of classic graphic design. The reproductions are small (obviously), so it’s best to look for a larger version to really appreciate any particular example. Here’s a sample of the 500 pieces that the book contains.
Woolmark logo,1964 Franco Grignani
The Gutenberg Bible, c.1453-1455 Johannes Gutenberg
Metropolitan World Atlas, 2005 Joost Grooten
The Man of Letters, or Pierrot’s Alphabet, 1794 Unknown
Vertigo poster, 1958 Saul Bass
Shell logo, 1971 Raymond Loewy
Physikalischer, 1845/48 Heinrich Berghaus. Detail below. A high-res version: goo.gl/sejFrP
Mexico Olympics identity 1968 Lance Wyman
London Underground logo, 1918 Edward Johnston. A post about the Underground Map is here:
Unknown Pleasures album cover, 1979 Peter Saville. A post about it is here:
The Elements of Euclid, 1847 Oliver Byrne
IBM logo, 1972 Paul Rand
Bauhaus Book, 1929 László Moholy-Nagy
Esso logo, 1933 Unknown
EYES AND INFOGRAPHICS.
Teaching aid A 1965 model from Michael Stoll’s collection. Made by Somso Models of Sonneberg, Germany. http://www.somso.de/en/somso/
Eye test The Snellen chart (which originated in 1862) is the most common.
Poster Of course, there are plenty of detailed eye diagrams around. If you want one for the wall: goo.gl/6SjuZz
Phoropter Great-looking instrument for precise optical measurements. I don’t care what it does, I just like the dials.
Photograph by Christian Weibull.
Color vision The Ishihara test can detect red-green vision deficiencies. This is one of the 38 test plates.
Vintage Illustrations from historical medical books.
Above, from Die Frau als Hausärztin, 1911. Below, from Meyers Konversations-Lexicon, 1897. (Hein Nouwens/shutterstock.com)
Eye color There are endless variations. Brown is the most common color, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Photograph © Taiga/123rf
A chart of doll eyes.
Signage This kind of design was very common years ago.
Giant eye Tony Tasset created a 30-foot (9-meter) diameter fiberglass eyeball (modeled on his own eye) in 2007. It’s a well-traveled item. First on display in Chicago’s Pritzer Park, then on the roadside in Sparta, Wisconsin (where it was originally constructed), and now in the Joule Hotel’s sculpture garden in Dallas.
Photograph by Carol M.Highsmith.
MAPPING METRO SYSTEMS.
New York City Subway Map, 1972 by Massimo Vignelli.
This week’s posts follow on from a recent one about Harry Beck’s seminal Underground map: goo.gl/Fpn3Qk
New York design classics The Graphics Standards Manual (1970) designed by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda set the design parameters for modern New York subway signage. A reprinted version, originally funded by a Kickstarter campaign, is available here: https://standardsmanual.com/pages/shop (along with a few other gems).
Two years later, the schematic map (shown at the top of this post) was introduced, and there was a lot of criticism. For London’s map, Harry Beck had chosen diagrammatic clarity over geographical accuracy, but a similar approach by Vignelli did not go down well with some of the inhabitants of NYC. After substantial changes (not overseen by its creator), the design was dropped in 1979. However, in 2012, the Metropolitan Transit Authority asked Vignelli to design a similar version for its Weekender app.
NYC today More geographically-correct, less of a design system. I don’t love it, but I understand why it’s the way it is.
The Tokyo trains can get very crowded. However, there are people who’s job is to push everyone in. Click on the image below to see the video.
Circular Max Roberts has redesigned several subway maps using a circular arrangement. Here are New York, London and Paris.
See more maps by Max Roberts here: http://www.tubemapcentral.com
Map or diagram? This animation of the Berlin subway first appeared on Reddit, and inspired others to make geographical comparisons with the diagrams of various cities. Some examples below.
Subway world A subway-style map of cities with urban transit systems.
DESIGNING FOR PEOPLE.*
Ergonomics “Humanscale” is a collection of three books and nine selectors with dials. They contain the detailed human measurements that designers need to create workspaces, furniture and products that are ergonomically sound. It was originally published in 1974 by Henry Dreyfuss Associates, and expanded the metrics of the original book, “The Measure of Man” (see “Origins” below). And now it’s being republished by IA Collaborative after a Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iacollaborative/reissue-of-humanscale
Inside the 1/2/3 booklet.
Some examples of possible applications.
Origins Henry Dreyfuss set the standard for visual ergonomic explanation with his book “The Measure of Man: Human Factors in Design” published in 1959. It contains 32 charts and two life-size posters (shown as one image below) designed by Dreyfuss and illustrated by Alvin Tilley. The two figures (nicknamed “Joe” and “Josephine”) represent the average American man and woman.
Below, the first edition cover.
The book was updated in 1993, and the title made more inclusive.
*The title of a 1955 Dreyfuss book.
HISTORICAL EXAMPLES FROM ERIC BAKER’S COLUMN.
Once a week for several years (ending in 2010), Eric Baker had an inspiring column called “Today” that appeared on the DesignObserver site. It was a set of carefully selected historical design images. Sometimes on a theme, sometimes not. Anyway, I really looked forward to seeing the latest treasure trove of imagery. So in the spirit of looking back for inspiration to our illustrious past, here’s a selection of 50 examples from those posts. Many of these are infographically-inclined, but that (of course) is because of the person selecting them.
MAPPING THE “TUBE.”
Harry Beck really started something. His elegant map of the London Underground (which is more of a diagram than a map) set the style of the modern subway guide. It’s designed to help people use the network. To show them clearly how to get from A to B, and make the correct connections. Beck aimed to strike a balance between a clear system diagram and the geography. This involved making some compromises with the distances between stations and their relative positions, and enlarging the center area where so many lines intersect. The first map printed in a large quantity (1933) is shown above. It was produced first as a folding, pocket-size map (shown here), and soon followed by a poster-size version. The design allowed for future expansion of the network.
The 1932 map (below) that preceded Beck’s was by F. H. Stingemore who designed the map from 1925 to 1932. The central area in the Stingemore map was slightly exaggerated and the outer stations were listed at the edges of the map. Beck’s redesign was a radical departure.
A rough drawing from 1931 shows Beck’s initial plan for his more diagrammatic map. He was an engineering draughtsman, not a graphic designer, so he looked at the project like an electrical circuit diagram.
A presentation version (1931) was rejected at first, but the following year was the basis for a test run of 500 copies. At this point, Beck was still using circles for most of the stations. He switched to tick marks in the 1933 version.
The current map is a lot more complicated with fare zones and additional subway lines.
The distortion from actual relationships to the diagrammatic map is shown in this animation. By Pham_Trinli.
In 2015, Transport for London released a more geographically-correct map that could be a real help for walkers, bikers etc. It was forced into the public area by a Freedom of Information request. Click on the image for a pdf version.
Earlier this month, Transport for London published a map for people who don’t like to be inside a tunnel, showing where the trains are actually underground. Despite the name of the system, 55% of it is above ground. Click on the image for a pdf version.
DESIGN IN THE NUCLEAR ERA.
The atomic age lasted through the 1950s and 1960s. It was a time of two opposite dynamics: there was the promise of unlimited power, and the threat of world destruction.
The dream Some examples of atomic optimism. Does the dog look worried?
Nuclear playtime An atomic lab in your child’s bedroom? Why not?
5,000 miles per charge The 1958 Ford Nucleon was a prototype car that would be powered by a small nuclear reactor. Perhaps.
Atomium Built in Brussels for the 1958 World’s Fair, this is a very large model of the unit cell of an iron crystal (magnified 165 billion times). It’s 335 feet tall (102 meters).
(Photograph: Mike Cattell)
Inside the top sphere there’s a restaurant with a panoramic view of the city.
World War III There was a very real worry that buttons might be pushed. Hence the fallout shelters all over the place.
You might want to build your own in the back garden.
It looks like fun.
Some light reading before bedtime.
RECREATING A MASTERPIECE, THE EASY WAY.
Years ago, before cellphones and computers, this was one of our pastimes. The current enthusiasm for adult coloring books seems to be closely related. Art made relatively easy using a simple system. It’s a low-stress activity with tangible results. Here are a couple of sets I purchased recently on eBay.
Mona Lisa (Shown above.) This one is on canvas for complete authenticity. Note the handy reference pic. Everything needed is here: A numbered keyline to follow, paintbrushes, and a set of acrylic paints with corresponding numbers. I need to start filling in the areas, but it looks quite challenging. The estimated value of the original painting is $1.5 billion. My Mona Lisa cost just $16.59 (with free shipping).
The Starry Night I’m going post-impressionist with this one.
Lines on a board, ready to become art. Presumably, this is not how Van Gogh planned the painting.
A detail. For areas with two numbers, the colors have to be mixed together. Fortunately, blending between the color areas is not suggested. Some sets that I had years ago (with oil-based paints) offered that additional task. The edges that were to get a smooth transition were indicated by dashed lines.
The required paints. Reeves has a numbered system that works across all their painting by numbers sets. No number one (lemon yellow) here.
In the gallery Andy Warhol’s 1962 “Do It Yourself” series is a tribute to the “painting by numbers” craze.
COMING NEXT WEEK: Two posts about In Graphics, a brilliant magazine where all the pages are infographics. Below, staff at Infographics Group in Berlin review proofs of the new issue (number ten).
INFORMATION PRESENTED IN LAYERS.
The Human Head, by Dr. Ergo, 1913. All the examples in this post are from Professor Michael Stoll’s superb collection of historical information graphics, which I’ve featured a number of times before.
Below, the Practical Engineer, by Gustav Ripke, 1905.
Steam and Electricity Technology at the Beginning of the 20th Century, 1903, contains a steam engine diagram with moving paper parts.
New Natural Treatments for Animals, by Dr. Knoll, 1923.
Botany for Everyone, by Ferruccio Rizzatti, 1923.
The KDF-Wagen, 1939. A clever look inside the first Volkswagen Beetle using clear plastic sheets with opaque elements. We’re looking up from under the car on the left-hand page, and from above it on the right-hand page. It was published as a supplement for an issue of a magazine, “Motor Schau”.
Previously featured gems from Michael Stoll’s collection: