Slate’s design blog.

Sept. 15 2014 11:51 AM

The Design Bible Behind New York City’s Subway Republished as a Limited-Edition Book

 

The New York City subway was a confusing mess in the 1960s, with inconsistent, haphazard signage that made navigating the system a nightmare for commuters. In 1967, the New York City Transit Authority decided to do something about it. They hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to design an improved signage and wayfinding system. The designers spent four years studying the labyrinth of the subway, analyzing the habits of commuters, and devising the iconic visual identity of the NYC subway that is still in use today, documented in the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual.

 

In 2012, designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth of New York City design firm Pentagram discovered a rare copy of the manual in their office’s basement. They created a website that included scans of the manual to serve as a digital archive of the work that they call “one of the world’s classic examples of modern design” and shared it with friends. Within 72 hours, more than a quarter-million people had browsed the images, and they decided to approach the MTA about republishing the manual in all its full-size, printed glory.

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Sept. 12 2014 11:17 AM

What Was the First Item Ever Designed?

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about the hand ax—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Sept. 11 2014 10:55 AM

Designers Turn Tel Aviv Street Art Into One-of-a-Kind Furniture

Tel Aviv–based industrial designers Ariel Zuckerman and Eran Shimshovitz came up with a creative way to get local street artists to help them design their new line of furniture. They hung wooden boards around the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood near their workshop and waited for graffiti artists to do their work.

Sept. 10 2014 10:40 AM

These Minimalist Cocktail Posters Are Giant Flashcards for Aspiring Bartenders

Sydney-based British designer Nick Barclay has created a clever set of minimalist posters of classic cocktails that are beautiful pieces of wall art that also function as cheat sheets for aspiring mixologists.

“There is a big bar/cocktail scene in Sydney, so I was introduced to the Negroni when I moved here six years ago, and that really sparked my interest in cocktails,” Barclay told me in an email.

Sept. 9 2014 11:13 AM

Water Awareness Project Wraps NYC Water Tanks With Temporary Art

 

Water tanks are one of the most identifiable landmarks in the New York City skyline. When artist, filmmaker, and activist Mary Jordan returned from Ethiopia in 2007, she saw the tanks not just as symbols of the city but as monuments to the abundant access to clean water that Americans take for granted.

 

Jordan had fallen ill and been nursed back to health during her travels. The women who cared for her asked her to repay them with a promise: to raise awareness about water scarcity and contamination in a world where 1 billion people still do not have access to clean water.

Sept. 8 2014 9:04 AM

Watch the Amish Raise a Barn in Less Than 10 Hours

In 18th- and 19th-century rural North America, barn-raising was a thing. But these days the Amish are among the last communities to carry on this mostly forgotten tradition in which neighbors volunteered their time and labor to helping one another build barns.

Sept. 5 2014 11:27 AM

Most of Ikea’s Product Images Are Computer-Generated

Ever wonder why the Ikea products look so good compared with your apartment filled with Ikea furniture? A recent article in CGSociety revealed that 75 percent of Ikea’s product images are not photographs of the famously inexpensive and hard-to-assemble furniture but are computer-generated.

Sept. 4 2014 11:56 AM

This House’s Rooms Rotate With the Touch of a Button

The delightful, surprising design of the Sharifi-ha House by Tehran-based architecture firm Next Office centers around its rotating box-shaped rooms on three floors. The motorized rooms can each be turned 90 degrees to make them outward- or inward-facing according to the weather. The angles at which the boxes are pivoted change the disposition of the rooms and the appearance of the house's narrow facade.

“Uncertainty and flexibility lie at the heart of this project’s design concept,” the designers wrote in an email, adding that the flexible design allowed for a house that was by turns “introverted or extroverted.”

Sept. 3 2014 11:06 AM

What Happens to “Holdouts” Who Refuse to Sell Their Homes to Developers?

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about holdouts—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Sept. 2 2014 10:56 AM

Angelina Jolie Used Her Versace Wedding Dress as a Canvas for Her Kids’ Artwork

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tied the knot last month, and exclusive photos of the Aug. 23 wedding at their Château Miraval in France are being featured on the covers of People and Hello magazines. They show Jolie in a seemingly traditional, minimalistic white silk-satin wedding dress designed by Donatella Versace and made by Atelier Versace's master tailor Luigi Massi.

But a closer look reveals what appears to be Jolie’s personal touch: dozens of multicolored embroidered appliqués based on drawings from the half-dozen Jolie-Pitt kids that Massi sewed on the veil and the train.

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