Jabbour’s New York City subway map alongside the current, more cluttered version.
In 1972, the Vignelli’s, the husband-wife designer-duo, created New York City’s subway map, a splendid synthesis of simplicity and elegance. Their design, with lines running at 90 and 45 degree angles, was an immediate hit, becoming an instant icon of high-modernism. But as New York City grew out of its grit – the Vignelli’s map depicted New York’s rivers a grimy brown – it was soon scrapped and later replaced with the map plastered on the hundreds of subway cars that criss-cross the city. Now Eddie Jabbour, an obsessive designer and founder of Kick Design, has taken a shot at the subway map, creating a bright and bubbly map, inspired by the aesthetic of web 2.0. Sadly for Jabbour, his map has not been embraced by the MTA, who, according to the Gothamist, claim that it is riddled with geographical inaccuracies. (It’s not like this stopped the MTA before; after all the Vignelli’s map displayed Central Park as a square.)
In a future post, I’ll talk a little bit about the design of the Metrobus map for Mexico City, where designers relied heavily on iconography as opposed to text in order to make the map accessible to the illiterate.