Words by Lucy Brook
Photography by Justin Chung

Hamish Smyth, Order

Brooklyn, NY

In 2012, when Hamish Smyth was working at the design firm Pentagram, he and a colleague, Jesse Reed, were searching for something in the office basement. The building on Madison Avenue was a treasure trove of design and typography resources, and although he didn’t find what he was looking for, Smyth did discover something else: a binder containing the original graphics standards manual for New York City Transit Authority. Created by renowned designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda in 1970, the manual set the terms for the signage system developed to bring order and consistency to the subway. Minor tweaks aside, the system persists today.
Two years later, Smyth and Reed launched a Kickstarter campaign—spearheaded by Smyth’s girlfriend Alex—to reissue the manual. They set a goal of $108,000 to cover a print run of 1000 copies. When Smyth left for the office that morning, around 400 people had backed the campaign. “By 10am, the time people were getting down to work, the notifications started going ‘Cha-ching! Cha-ching! Cha-ching!’” Smyth laughs. They raised $250,000 before lunch, and more than $800,000 over the course of a month. “Nobody expected it, least of all us.”


Full story available in the upcoming Faculty Department Vol. 2 (coming Fall 2019)

Photographed in 2018 – Brooklyn, NY