Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
One of the world's most popular underground networks finally gets the wayfinding treatment it deserves.
Built in 1935 and expanded in various stages since, Moscow's metro system bears layers of history. That includes its signage—and not necessarily in a good way.
"There was no set standard for signage, use of pictograms, or type across Moscow Metro," says Henrik Kubel of design firm A2/SW/HK. "It was an amalgamation of signs and illustrations from many different eras." Moscow has already begun rolling out a new typeface and pictogram set made by Kubel and his design partner, Scott Williams.
Part of a full redesign initiative by the Moscow Department of Transportation and CityID (which has headed similar projects in the U.S. and U.K.), the city's transit system is getting a facelift in the way of new maps, signs, and fonts. "The system was in great need of a unified visual solution," Kubel tells CityLab.
Kubel and Williams spent half of 2014 coming up with and executing the new look, consulting Ilya Ruderman and famed UK designer Margaret Calvert along the way. Currently in the pilot stage, test signs and maps are appearing at various metro stations with a full rollout expected by the end of this year.
Replacing the mishmash of signage (with few in any characters other than Russian) is one standardized set that uses its own new font, Moscow Sans.
The new pictogram language is especially sharp—universally recognizable and connected to the typeface it supports. "The final design has an integrated visual symmetry. Both fonts and pictograms relate stylistically to Moscow Metro, its architecture, and heritage," says Kubel. (He likes the "Walking Figure" and "Tram" ones the most.)
Muscovites who depend on the bus, bike, or tram shouldn't feel left out. Moscow DOT also plans to bring the new look above ground in the near future.
H/T: It's Nice That