Sunday, April 17, 2011

lowercase love in d.c., w.v.

esigning good graphics seems to pose a serious challenge for many municipal government agencies. As I explore the region, I try to pay attention to what cities and towns are doing on the design front. Usually, nothing really catches my eye. Once in a while you run across a snappy slogan. (Ashland, Va., has banners declaring itself the "Center of the Universe," which is no doubt backed up by some iron-clad astronomical measurements.) But Washington, D.C., and Bluefield, W.V., managed to make me take notice in small ways. Both cities offer interesting examples of designs that force you to think for a moment before realizing what information they are conveying.

The first time I saw a "d." hiding along the streets of D.C., I
wondered what exactly I was reading. A "d" and a period seemed like someone had made a mistake. Then it dawned on me that it should be read "D-dot," which is short for District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Fresh out of college as a newspaper reporter in the late 1990s, I wrote occasional stories on NYDOT, so it was a little embarrassing that it took me so long to decipher "d." I guess you could argue that a good logo shouldn't leave you wondering what it is trying to do. But I still love the minimalist simplicity and the choice of using a lowercase letter.

Bluefield's exa
mple is along the same lines. I am not sure if the city came up with the design or if the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce is responsible. Either way, it is a fun design. I first walked by this banner wondering why someone would just write the word "field" along the bottom of a rectangle. Once I remembered what city I was in, it hit me that someone had come up with simple way of conveying the name Bluefield without resorting to writing out the whole name. I also applaud the use of lowercase letters.

Anyone out there have other examples of interesting government/civic graphic design?

The "d" that opened this entry is from Easton, Pa. While it is not part of a great design, I felt it was in keeping with the lowercase letter theme for today. And this "d" will be in the mix when I open shop in the next few weeks. More details to come.

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