2D Design

Stendig Calendar Fix

This calendar design is unrepentantly ripped off from Massimo Vignelli’s famous and beautiful 1967 Stendig Calendar. However, like the alterations that had to be made to his iconic NYC subway wayfinding and mapping system it needed some fixes.

First, I thought, it really needs to show weekends more distinctly and add holidays and vacations. This is how we use calendars really. To easily understand where we are and what’s coming up. Marking long weekends and yearly milestones are intuitively how we go through the year.  Second. Other notable days could be marked in colour or with small captions. Some added just for laughs. Not I believe, a Massimo strong suit, but essential to my being.

Third, by making the weekend dates in grey this eliminated the need for the large day letter labels. Beautiful but now extraneous.  Fourth. Nobody reads a calendar vertically so we made the fine rules horizontal. (When I showed the idea to Michael Bierut he said it was a big deal that the numbers were flush left. Usually numbers are always flush right, but Massimo told them: ”Nobody adds up the Saturdays!” Sort of true Massimo, but I guess some people might.) Fifth. We put the month big, in the left corner. Sixth. We eliminated the mid-size type and introduced a teeny-tiny caption size running up beside the numbers. What Modern typographer doesn’t like vertical type and simple 2 colour-use for emphasis? Seventh. We added the overlapping month dates in the mini caption size too. You often count ahead to see what day will be the 3rd or 4th of of the next month.

Bob Noorda and Massimo’s use of unapologetically monolithic large sans serif numbers and letterforms, tight letterspacing, stark size contrasts and an overall minimal aesthetic are altars of Modernism upon which I still worship. But design should be user-friendly and beautiful so sometimes it needs tweaking. The original NYC subway wayfinding was white type on black – much too easily vandalized and hard to maintain. And the subway map was way too overly simplified and geometric. Not human-needs based. It’s good to tidy things up for clarity, but not if you sweep comprehension into the bin too.  So the NYC subway map has been modified many times since Unimark’s first overly-rationalized iteration in 1972.

Next up – the Milan subway system. So gloomy and all the station signs look exactly the same. And those all-caps are much too hostile.