Recently I did an exercise with my class about subway maps, and we started by looking at the iconic (and in my opinion, beautiful) map that Massimo Vignelli designed for the New York City subway in the 70s. I adore this map, and though I’m not particularly attached to NYC, I entertain hanging it on my wall in some form from time to time.
This is just a detail, but it captures the vibrant color and bold lines that I love. (image via The New Yorker)
Here is another detail, featuring the man himself (via here):
Here is the full-version, which has a huge impact in real life but probably looks underwhelming tiny and on-screen. (image via here)
I even love the cover of the fold-out. (image via Flickr)
You can read more about the map here at Design Observer. (Have I mentioned before how much I love Design Observer? It’s always a great place to start when you’re in need of inspiration.)
I think this aesthetic – which I think of as a stripey, bold, geometric application of color – is why I like the art of Markus Linnenbrink so much. I first fell in love with his paintings, but also am interested in the installations he started a bit after those. This one in particular really reminds me of the Vignelli map with its graphic lines. (image via here)
Both the map and Linnenbrink’s work are evocative of Jim Lambie’s tape installations, I would argue.
Here’s one of Lambie’s installations at the Tate in London (via Apartment Therapy):
And another at MOMA in NYC:
To break it down further, I even see lines that are similar to the original Vignellli map in things like rugs… (via here)
…posters (via here)…
…and vintage magazine articles like this one from Better Homes and Gardens from around 1975, which was when the map was in use (via here).
It makes me wonder what these artists and designers were inspired by, and if they ever looked to this same map when they were creating.
Sometimes, inspiration comes from the most unexpected and seemingly irrelevant places…