Interview With Graphic Design Legend Massimo Vignelli – New York Subway Map Designer

From 2006, the late designer shares the story behind his infamous New York subway map and why typographic elegance will prevail.

Gary Hustwit: Can you talk about the map you designed for the New York subway system in the ’70s?

Massimo Vignelli: Such a controversial thing. It’s funny, but I realized the other day the mistake I made. So this is really the clearest kind of map I have ever seen in terms of information for the subway. It’s very simple. Every subway line on the map has a color, and in reality, they already have one. And every station has a dot, you know. Every stop is a dot—no dot, no stop. It couldn’t be easier than that. There is nothing to fragment the legibility of this. Instead, if you look at today’s map, it’s a total disaster, with fragmentation all over the place. I can show it to you. And this is what we tried to avoid.

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Now, 75 years ago, in London, they did the first map with a 90- and 45-degree grid like this one here, and it’s been working fine in London for all this time. But New York is a different kind of a city. And now I just realized that maybe, possibly, I made a mistake by indicating, even in a deformed way, the areas—Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, et cetera. I probably should have done what they’ve done in London—not have any indication of the geography. It’s a completely blank, white background so that there is no suggestion of geography whatsoever…

3044133 poster p 2 a rare interview with graphic design legend massimo vignelli - Interview With Graphic Design Legend Massimo Vignelli - New York Subway Map Designer

From 2006, the late designer shares the story behind his infamous New York subway map and why typographic elegance will prevail.

Read more from the source: A Rare Interview With Graphic Design Legend Massimo Vignelli

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