Photo courtesy Kickstarter campaign

1970s graphics manual gets repurposed for current environmental concerns

Text Summit Staff

An unexpected brand of activism is being brought on by a Kickstarter campaign in its attempt to republish a rare 1970s government agency design manual into a hardcover book.

Already successfully funded with several days to go, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, and publisher Standards Manual will release a reissue of the 1977 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Graphics Standards System.

To offset agency financial waste, the major New York-based branding and design firm of Chermayeff & Geismar Associates were called in for the redesign. Sagi Haviv says in the Kickstarter campaign that "It is extraordinary for me -- as someone from a different generation -- to see this comprehensive and well-designed graphic system for a goverment agency, especially in a time when the role and competence of government in general is called into question. This document is a time capsule."

While Jesse Reed of Standards Manual told Quartz “We’re not making claims that this book is meant to save the world or anything grander than the information inside of it” and more of a matter of preservation, 40 years later in 2017, President Trump plans to slash the EPA's budget by 31 percent and decrease its employee staff by 15,000. "The humble standards manual has the opportunity to become the most accessible U.S.-based artifact on the need for lasting, bipartisan support to protect our environment," writes AIGA board member Ashleigh Axios for Design Observer.

The Quartz article reports that Chermayeff & Geismar Associates "proposed economical solutions such as rendering the EPA logo in one color and using ready-to-use graphic elements (wavy lines, patterns, vivid colors) to infuse visual interest on the covers of technical reports. They also assigned colors for each of the EPA’s topic areas: Toxic Red, Noise Yellow, Radiation Red, Air Blue."

Photo courtesy Kickstarter campaign

“We’re showing federal programs don’t have to be boring and dry,” says Reed. "At a certain time, there was a lot of focus on quality and care when presenting information."

And as an added bonus, the book will include fascinating photographs from the 1970s EPA-commissioned Documerica Project.

Proceeds from book sales will help support Earthjustice and AIGA Design Archives.


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