An 11th Commandment, for Dogs

Slate’s design blog.
Oct. 15 2013 1:27 PM

Design Tackles an Unholy Problem

131016_EYE_STJ_DOGSIGN_POOP
Newly designed signage at NYC's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has a witty, down-to-earth message.

Image courtesy Pentagram

Michael Bierut and Jesse Reed from design firm Pentagram recently created eye-catching new signage for the grounds of New York City’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. The grounds are a popular dog-walking spot, and the campaign uses irreverent humor to deliver a strong message about the unholy problem of dog poop.

For the last several weeks, worshippers and tourists visiting the landmark grounds have been met with bright green signs with white lettering that proclaims: Thou Shalt Not Poop.

“They’re pretty open-minded clients,” Reed told me. "These were the only options we presented the client and they were approved as is. Something pretty rare in our business!"

Advertisement

Pentagram first started working on rebranding the cathedral in 1999. One project was updating the church's typeface: The church had been using Frederic Goudy‘s blackletter font from 1928, which Goudy had based on Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible; Pentagram asked typographer Joe Finocchiaro to design a new version. Finocchiaro “repointed” Goudy’s letterforms to ensure crisp reproduction at large sizes and make it look “cleaner and more consistent, not like a calligraphic pen and ink drawing but more digitized and modern,” Reed says.

131016__EYE_POOP
As part of a redesign, Pentagram redrew the cathedral's signature font. Original Goudy Blackletter on top; new Divine on the bottom.

Image courtesy Pentagram

One of Pentagram’s overarching goals for the rebranding was to help the organization attract a non-religious younger audience to its cultural events.

“We wanted the copy-writing to be sort of witty and have a double meaning,” Reed says, “so we’ve tried to push them in that sense.”

131016_EYE_STJ_DOGSIGN_ALL
Additional iterations of the anti-poop commandment.

Photo courtesy Pentagram

Reed says that the brief was simply to design some new anti dog-poop signs for the lawns. “The most obvious thing you can do is an icon of a dog taking a dump with a big red circle and a line through it, but that’s boring and expected,” Reed says, “so we just tried to think creatively, to add some character to it and be a little more forward-thinking.”

The signs have been a hit, Reed says, and there are plans to produce a series of signs for purchase in the cathedral gift shop to spread the anti-poop gospel beyond the holy grounds.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.