News / Graphic Design

The US Environmental Protection Agency graphic standards manual from 1977 to be reissued

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New York publishing imprint Standards Manual has worked with AIGA and design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv (CGH) on creating a reissue of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) graphic standards system as a hardcover book. The publisher, run by Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed, has previously reissued the New York City Transit Authority and the NASA graphic standards manuals, and hope to continue its work showing “how design can help to shape federal programmes” with this latest project.

Partnering with CGH, the design firm that designed the original EPA manual in 1977, Standards Manual has put together the book using high quality scans of the original manual, printed at the same size and using the same ten Pantone spot colours and four CMYK colours. It has a silkscreen cover, a recycled board slipcase with a blind deboss and hardcover binding. It features a foreword by designer Tom Geismar, an essay by New York magazine’s Christopher Bonanos and 48 pages of photographs from the EPA-commissioned Documerica project (1970-1977).

According to the publisher, the original came as a result of the EPA’s “terribly inefficient” graphic design and communications department, in which “millions of dollard were being wasted annually due to non-standardised formats, inefficient processes, and almost everything being designed from scratch.” The 1977 manual by CGH tackled this, and now this reissue hopes to celebrate its impact.

CGH partner Sagi Haviv says of the reissue: “It is extraordinary for me – as someone from a different generation — to see this comprehensive and well-designed graphic system for a government agency, especially in a time when the role and competence of government in general is called into question. This document is a time capsule.”

It launches via Kickstarter from 24 April – 26 May 2017. A portion of the proceeds from the book sales will go to charity Earthjustice and AIGA’s design archive initiative.

Hamish and Jesse say of the book: “From a nerdy design point-of-view, perhaps the most impressive part of this manual is the flexible design system Chermayeff & Geismar introduced to represent various EPA departments. A system of colour, pattern, illustration, and photography can be mixed, resulting in endless visual outcomes. Flexible systems are a common weapon in the arsenal of today’s computer powered designers today, but this holistic thinking was very modern at the time.”

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Standards Manual: EPA Graphic Standards System

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Standards Manual: EPA Graphic Standards System

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Standards Manual: EPA Graphic Standards System

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Standards Manual: EPA Graphic Standards System