Adam Gopnik rants against a new signage system in TOO MUCH INFORMATION
“Worse than merely unfamiliar, though, the signs are infuriating — first, because they are there for the convenience of cars, and thus violate the first Law of Civilization, which states that nothing must ever be done for the convenience of cars (the mark of a city worth living in is that there are never enough places to park); and, second, because they eclipse, as decor, the jaunty, jazz-era syncopation of the classic New York street-corner sign pair, each sign gesturing toward its own street, but with the two set at slightly different levels, so that they have a happy, semaphoric panache. ”
The city’s comissioner of transportation argues for the signs by talking usability, but I think Gopik’s rebuttal is sound on both a use and a aesthetic platform. It’s a fine reminder that a system is more than its parts, more than a single homogenous solution that fits all, it must embrace the soul of a place and the nature of its people.