Perhaps it's the contemporary obsession with nostalgia, but somehow, just like Brutalism, dated design manuals have made a comeback. Thanks to a few within the design industry—notably "typomaniac" Erik Spiekermann and filmmaker Gary Hustwit—the thirst for graphic design guides and their retro-chic has flourished. These books have become coffee table musts. But where to buy them? Sure, they can be purchased online, but if we are to truly wind back the analog clock, nothing quite beats a visit to a proper bookstore and a new one in Brooklyn has the answer.
Graphic designers Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed opened their new graphic design bookstore yesterday, along with their new design office, Order. Located in Greenpoint, the store was designed by New York architect Miran Jang in collaboration with Smyth and Reed. According to the owners, it is the only specialized graphic design bookstore in New York City.
Order specializes in branding, corporate identity, publications, signage, and wayfinding design. The Brooklyn-based pair favors a straightforward typographic approach, preferring function over decoration. Their work has been recognized by institutes such as the Type Directors Club and The American Institute of Graphics Arts.
Formerly of Pentagram, Smyth and Reed are also the two designers behind Standards Manual. The venture started off when they unearthed a 1970 edition of the New York City Transit Graphics Standards Manual and decided it would be a good idea to reproduce it. A 2014 Kickstarter campaign asked for just over $100,000 to print 1,000 books. The pair eventually raised more than $800,000. People actually wanted this, who knew?
Naturally, a second standards manual followed, this time for NASA and also from the 1970s. And this time their fundraising fell a mere $58,000 shy of $1 million. Their current Kickstarter, for the 1977 EPA Graphic Standards System, has already reached its goal.
These design manuals and a selection of curated graphic design books from a variety of publishers including Chronicle Books, Gary Hustwit, Harper Collins, Hartley and Marks, Hachette, Laurence King, Niggli, Phaidon, Prestel, Unit Editions, and Yale University Press are available to purchase at their new store.
Standards Manual store 212 Franklin Street Brooklyn, New York
Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10–6 p.m.