Pentagram Redesigns NY Street Signs

JamesM's picture

New York's Department of Transportation has unveiled several new parking signs it created in partnership with a team of designers at Pentagram. Previously, parking signs had been the work of the city’s sign shop.


Interview with designer:

Joshua Langman's picture

Who's behind the new light-up blue street signs in large U&lc serif type?

aluminum's picture

Definitely an improvement (even just left-aligning helped a lot).

It still seems a bit confusing, but I don't live in NYC so maybe it makes more sense in context.

eliason's picture

I like the older, longer en-dashes. The update looks a little like "Monday • Friday"

hrant's picture

I think it's an improvement overall, but the new design is too mannered to be fully functional. Like those left-aligned arrows look pretty retarded.


HVB's picture

As someone who used to spend quite a bit of time deciphering NYC parking signs, these are a great improvement. Might be even better if the smaller text was somewhat larger.

hhp: Absolutely right about the left-adjusted two-way arrows. They look like someone made a mistake.

- Herb

PublishingMojo's picture

IMHO, the new design is no better and no worse than the old design. The new wording, however, is a big improvement. Kudos to the editor.
Then again, when I go to Manhattan I never take a car.

rs_donsata's picture

None, the old or the new, are very good at all.

Martin Silvertant's picture

IMHO, the new design is no better and no worse than the old design.

I don't think you believe that yourself. The new design isn't good, but certainly less cluttered than the old design. Regardless of opinions, the new design is objectively better.

The use of the hyphen instead of the en-dash in the new design really frustrates me though. I tend to forgive the city's sign shop on such practices (though even then I get frustrated by street signs every day), though Pentagram should know better. Actually I think this is unforgivable for any sign maker.

This is going off-topic, but look at what I recently observed in a Vodafone store:

I informed one of the workers about the mistake and she giggled and responded "I didn't do that". Obviously not, but could you at least report it to your manager? I don't necessarily need to get it fixed, but I can't stand the fact that no one reports these mistakes so they often go largely unnoticed by most people. With the upside-down apostrophe though, I'm sure most people will feel there is something off about it. Certainly if they compare it to the apostrophe on the left wall of the store, which is the right side up.

JamesM's picture

> I think this is unforgivable for any sign maker.

Yep. But I remember years ago when a design firm I worked for designed some signs for the city (for a special event). We went to the city's sign shop to exam them. The foreman said "You can look at them but we're not changing a damn thing!"

Martin Silvertant's picture

I don't understand how people can do a serious job and not care at all about the quality. I have higher expectations of people who work with type every day. I don't know how long the guy who put the apostrophe upside-down in the Vodafone store has been applying lettering, but if you can't get this right, perhaps it's not the job for you. I know I'm a perfectionist, which tends to frustrate a lot of people, but it infuriates me when people just don't care.

A while ago I was following a lecture and I noticed the guy in front of me was designing some kind of advertisement on his laptop and I saw he used hyphens where he should be using dashes. I told him he was using the wrong glyphs and told him how to type the en-dash. He gave me 5 seconds to communicate that information and when he still didn't get it to work within those 5 seconds, he told me "Never mind that". What the hell? I'm really suppressing an urge to type in all-caps here! He wants to be a graphic designer; he should care! If someone points out a mistake to me, I make sure to acknowledge it and learn from it. I don't give up after seconds and tell myself it's not important. If I didn't know about the correct use, I probably don't have any insight on how important it is anyway. But either way, importance shouldn't be a consideration. You should do it right, even if you're the only one in the world who will notice. At least respect yourself as a designer. If you don't care, don't expect me to take you seriously.

JamesM's picture

Could the apostrophe have been deliberate? It looks like a mistake, but the sign contains a misspelled word (I'm assuming it's in the U.S.) and maybe some misguided designer thought he was being clever.

Martin Silvertant's picture

No, it's a Dutch Vodafone store. The text says "Try it yourself". The apostrophe is in place of omitted letters in "het" (it), just like in rock 'n' roll.

If you were assuming it's in the US, what did you think it said?

JamesM's picture

I thought it was a deliberately misspelled "itself". I'm not up on current slang with young folks and thought maybe it's a phrase I hadn't heard. Didn't realize it's Dutch.

Martin Silvertant's picture

I'm not sure awexather's account is genuine. He has been a member for 2 days and has been an automatic spammer for the same amount of days.

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