The Eye

Gorgeous Limited-Edition NYC Subway Posters From the Transit Map’s Late Designer

The set of six limited-edition posters feature vividly colored zoomed-in details of the NYC subway map.

Courtesy of SuperWarmRed Designs

The design world lost a beloved giant with the death of Massimo Vignelli in May of 2014. Last fall, the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual that Vignelli co-designed in the 1960s was reissued as a limited-edition book. And now SuperWarmRed Designs’ Beatriz Cifuentes and Yoshiki Waterhouse, Vignelli’s associates for the last 15 years of his life, are offering both signed and unsigned limited-edition posters of the MTA New York City subway diagram that the trio designed together in 2012 for use in the MTA’s Weekender website and app.

Limited-edition posters of the MTA subway diagram, redesigned in 2012 for the digital era.

Courtesy of SuperWarmRed Designs

The diagram is available in a limited edition signed by the late, great Massimo Vignelli.

Courtesy of SuperWarmRed Designs

Based on Vignelli’s subway map design of 1972, the new diagram was updated with satellite data and revised to reflect the current system, colors, and nomenclature. It’s printed in Pantone and Hexachrome inks on archival paper and will likely become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art this year.*

SuperWarmRed also plans to soon release a delightful series of six limited-edition posters designed by Cifuentes, Waterhouse, and Vignelli in 2013. They will be sold as a set in a small, non-numbered limited edition.

Close-up of the diagram showing subway lines intersecting at Times Square.

Courtesy of SuperWarmRed Designs

I asked the designers about the posters, which are as beautiful, cheerful, and brightly colored as the NYC subway is not. They told me in an email that the design was based on an idea they had when building the subway diagram on the computer.

A series of six posters designed by Vignelli and associates in 2013 made with details of the NYC subway diagram.

Courtesy of SuperWarmRed Designs

“Zooming in and out on our large displays to perfect small details, we noticed how interesting it would be to blow up the diagram, and immediately began making small sketches,” Cifuentes and Waterhouse said. “A couple of years passed before an opportunity to use the idea arose. The three of us sat at the computer looking for interesting crops, beginning with the interchange at Atlantic Av in Brooklyn. We made it a rule for the crops to be at consistent scale.”

Vignelli, Cifuentes, and Waterhouse at work together on the revised subway diagram.

Courtesy of SuperWarmRed Designs

*Update, Jan. 15, 2015: This post has been updated to clarify that the poster’s acceptance into the MoMA’s permanent collection is likely but not certain. A committee will meet in March to debate this matter.