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.”

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

The Force Field Cloak
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.


More from mental floss studios