Help Fund a Campaign to Reissue NASA's 1975 Design Manual

In 1972, just 14 years after NASA was established, the National Endowment for the Arts initiated the “Federal Graphics Improvement Program," aimed at improving the design standard for government agencies.

Designers Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn eventually won the bid to reshape the look and voice of the United States space program, and in 1974, presented their portfolio to administrator Dr. James C. Fletcher and his deputy, Dr. George Low. The following year, the Danne & Blackburn-designed NASA Graphics Standards Manual was released in a simple, 8.5-inch x 11-inch ring binder.

That manual—from letterheads to motor vehicles—would become the visual identity of the program for the next 17 years, with the “Worm” logotype at the forefront. Everything changed in 1992, when mounting pushback culminated in the rescinding of the Danne & Blackburn logo, with the original “Meatball” logo reinstated in its place.

The "Worm" and "Meatball" logos // Kickstarter.

“I’ve had an exhilarating career, and I love it," Danne said. "But, this was the toughest thing to swallow that I ever had to deal with.”

That quote is from the Kickstarter campaign to reissue the 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual. The men behind the campaign—Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth—have already blown past their fundraising goal with 33 days to go. For $79, a copy of the reissue can be yours, and $292,166 in pledges from nearly 3000 backers (at the time of writing) suggest that the 40-year-old design document is still as relevant as ever. Danne describes the work as not simply a logo but a true, comprehensive system to create a unified program, and a successful one at that.

The 200-page reissue will be printed and bound as a hardcover book using scans from Danne’s own copy. It will also include supplemental materials and the original NASA presentation. The publication is not connected to NASA in any way, and Reed and Smyth write that it’s “... undertaken in an effort to preserve and disseminate an archival record of graphic design from the era.” It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like designing the look of a such a massive organization, rife with infinite possibilities and final frontiers.

Or, as Danne says in the video for the project: “It was a great undertaking to tackle one of the toughest assignments known to man.”

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Courtesy Umbrellium
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
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Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Here's How to Turn an IKEA Box Into a Spaceship
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Since IKEA boxes are designed to contain entire furniture items, they could probably fit a small child once they’re emptied of any flat-packed component pieces. This means they have great potential as makeshift forts—or even as play spaceships, according to one of the Swedish furniture brand’s print ads, which was spotted by Design Taxi.

First highlighted by Ads of the World, the advertisement—which was created by Miami Ad School, New York—shows that IKEA is helping customers transform used boxes into build-it-yourself “SPÄCE SHIPS” for children. The company provides play kits, which come with both an instruction manual and cardboard "tools" for tiny builders to wield during the construction process.

As for the furniture boxes themselves, they're emblazoned with the words “You see a box, they see a spaceship." As if you won't be climbing into the completed product along with the kids …

Check out the ad below:

[h/t Design Taxi]


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