NASA Provides Free PDF of Their 1970s Design Manual

Display Graphic Design Collection, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Display Graphic Design Collection, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Display Graphic Design Collection, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's been a big year for a design manual from the mid-1970s.

The manual, created for NASA by New York studio Danne & Blackburn in 1974, provided a guidelines as to what the government agency's designs should look like. The beautifully retro manual was uploaded to Flickr in 2011 and, earlier this year, spurred a successful Kickstarter campaign to reprint the book.

Designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth wanted to reissue the manual as a hardcover book to honor Danne & Blackburn's work. The manual was created, according to the Kickstarter, as part of the “'Federal Graphics Improvement Program,' to raise the standard of design and communications of U.S. government agencies" at a time when the space agency's "graphics and communications were fragmented, old fashioned and had no clear, unified voice." The manual was released in 1975 and replaced by a new guide in 1992. Reed and Smyth created their version of the manual using scan's from Danne's original copy; they sold the books on Kickstarter for $79. The campaign raised over $940,000 with almost 9000 backers.

With this kind of success, it's not unlikely that the campaign is the reason for NASA's recent decision to quietly release free PDFs of the guide to the general public.

“We can’t say the move is directly responding to our project, but it’s safe to suspect they are related. It’s great that they’re making the guidelines available to the public, we think they should be. That said, we don’t think that having an online PDF is the easiest way to engage with the information,” Reed told Vice.

You can save yourself some money and check out the whole manual here [PDF].

[h/t: It's Nice That]