If you’re the kind of person who delights in debating the relative merits of font serifs or reminiscing about the heyday of subway sign design then you may have a new place to congregate with the like-minded. The founders of Greenpoint-based design firm Order recently opened Standards Manual– to their knowledge New York’s only specialty graphic design bookstore.
Order’s founding partners, Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth, were also behind the crowdfunded reissues of iconic NYC Transit Authority and NASA graphics standards manuals, and the new store is an outgrowth of their burgeoning publishing imprint.
The store, which shares physical space with Order’s agency office, will stock those tomes and others from a variety of design and coffee-table publishers. Even describing it as a bookstore is rather generous — as of now it’s just a few shelves. The address is “about 25% bookstore and 75% office,” Reed admitted. They’re starting with 35 to 40 titles for sale and hope to expand.
“When we started Order we had this idea that we’d love to sell our books and have a small space in our office where people could buy our books,” Smyth said. “It evolved from having a little shelf [on which] to sell our own books to a store selling other graphic design titles.”
They’re building the initial selection with novice graphic designers in mind, based on the books they found most valuable when starting out. “As a young, impressionable graphic designer you need to see the real foundation work that everything you see now is built upon,” Reed said. “Not just go to Pinterest.”That’s part of the reason Reed and Smyth became interested in reproducing standards manuals from an unconventional source like government bureaus. Federal agencies are not the most obvious fountain of design inspiration. “It’s not something that gets praised very much,” Reed said. “But it is design. And it’s really smart and thoughtful design. The same principles apply as when you design more commercial things.”
Reed and Smyth have drawn on that inspiration when working on major projects, individually and together, for clients including MasterCard, Hillary for America, and the MTA.
No rest for the weary: They’re currently wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign to fund a reissue of the 1977 EPA Graphic Standards System. In addition to the NASA and Transit Authority manuals, they’ve also published a reproduction of the American Revolution bicentennial standards manual.
The store is open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm, at 212 Franklin Street in Greenpoint.