blog post: march 7, 2015
If I ever had to come up with a graphic symbol of New York, then I would encapsulate entire city into multiplication sign. New York is a common city, but multiplied by ten. It’s got ten times more people, ten times more talks, people sing on the streets ten times louder, buildings are ten times higher, ten times more information signs, ten times more ideas, desires, purchases, concerts, shows, ten times more pardons, ten times more food and ten times more trash, that is being cleaned up ten times faster. Honestly, amongst everything else, the effect of “ten times” does make up the image of New York from the outside.
Thinking of design and of the fact, that almost everybody here understands it’s value and consciously seeks help of professional designers, I involuntarily think of the effect of “ten”. Quite often design is being labeled as a problem-solving activity, without giving a proper explanation of what it means. In reality, it can be labelled as such only when used in scale. A smart typeface design would be able to dramatically save on ink only when there is a lot of printing going on. Let’s be honest, in printing of a thousand leaflets so as any other promo materials, there is not that much difference whether or not typeface is saving on ink. It would simply remain unnoticed, and as a result — under-appreciated. When working on a parcel packaging design for a region that is not sending parcels that often — you would not be able to exhibit your skills of informational and behavioural design, just because there isn’t enough parcels to move around to check it. Any design would do. I can assure you that an average man doesn’t need a calculator to multiply 5 by 9 and to subtract 3 out of it. Equally, we don’t really believe that design solves problems, because we in developing parts of the world don’t have a real one to tackle just yet.
When you see tons of trash piled on the sides of the streets in New York — you involuntarily realise that without a smart recycling system and timed-to-minutes logistics this city wouldn’t survive. Many informational signs and rhetorics they are talking to us with, is the only way for a city to survive, without being sued in the local court. Helvetica city New York would righteously be paralysed if you draw serifs on top of Max Miedingers letterforms, since you’ll have to multiply delays caused by poor readability by 10, and that is a nightmare to think of. All you end up with, is to walk the city, thinking and praising the effect of the sacred number.