As you probably already know, the Morgenland family enjoys (and, perhaps more importantly, produces) good design. Some of us also have a keen interest in things concerning space travel. Therefore it should come as no surprise that we greatly appreciate the 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual. As designers, it serves as a great source of inspiration – if not a healthy obsession. Okay fine, it’s our Bible.
Thankfully, we’re far from the only ones treasuring the combination of design and space travel. Last month we were pleased to find the Kickstarter project that intends to print a reissue of the manual in the form of a hardcover book. It seems bound to become a reality as the project was funded in less than a day. NASA conveniently responded by releasing a PDF of the manual for free.
Designed by Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn in 1974, the Standards Manual still set the standard for graphic identities to this day – 40 years later. It features amazingly extensive guidelines on how NASA’s identity should be applied, from basic publications to huge spacecraft, leaving no question unanswered. All departments were unified by the iconic “Worm” logo, a great example of modernist design that somehow still appears futuristic.
In 1992, however, the identity that we’re so fond of was strangely rescinded. The simple red logo was replaced by its busier blue predecessor. The so-called “Meatball” logo is charming and perhaps more depictive of NASA’s area of expertise, but arguably a less forward-thinking piece of design. Not to mention less noticeable in space. Just the other day, NASA unveiled its plan to send humans to Mars permanently. Morgenland’s curious nature means that we’re tempted to apply for a spot on the maiden voyage – if only for the chance to become the first advertising agency on Mars. But until that time comes we feel we still have work to do here on Earth. In any case, If NASA should come to their senses and decide it’s time to reinstate their previous identity and readapt it to the digital age, we want to go on record saying we would love to lend them a helping hand. Take note, NASA.
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