The making of the Moscow design code

Overview   Process   Documents  

Receiving the current photos and vector images of the buildings from the customer.

mka design code process 01

Estimating the size of the project.

mka design code process 02

Studying examples of guidelines for signage on commercial building facades from other cities of the world.

mka design code process 03

Thinking on how to mark different types of signs. Notice two variations: 3D letters against a background and solo. It becomes obvious, that there’re some overcrowded spots we need extra zoom-ins of.

mka design code process 04

At the same time, building up a classification system.

mka design code process 05

At first, trying to suggest a replacement for the crossed-out signs right away.

mka design code process 06

But it prooves unrealistic to offer a complete design for all signs. Soon, a helpful idea pops up to limit locations for signage to “green zones.”

Thinking on how to label such zones, and also banners, blades, and other signage types. Placing the reccommendation to limit signage to the green zones in the header of eah page of the handbook.

mka design code process 07

Determining the scale: 1:50 is too large, 1:100 is just perfect. Also selecting the page dimensions.

A complete facade can’t be printed in small format without loosing the details.

Settling for 600×297 mm. This large, the format still pushes some buildings to spill out over several pages.

mka design code process 08
mka design code process 09

Putting our proposed rules to test by digitally mounting the new signs.

mka design code process 10

Testing vector images in black and white in an attempt to make the signs stand out.

mka design code process 11

The greatest challenge was to boil down a list of the main problems with the existing signage. Evidently, it’s all a mess, but how to identify separate problems?

Eventually gathering a collection of good and bad examples, categorizing them, training an eye for details and good taste.

mka design code process 12

One of the meetings with the customer reveals the markings of the unacceptable signs are barely visible.

Receiving a three-stage structure: The Existing Situation, Acceptable and Unacceptable Signs, and Placement Map. The page grew to a standard A2 size.

Learning that the approved signs can’t be just disapproved and uninstalled. An extra marker came to life: the yellow check mark.

mka design code process 13

To bring the markings upfront, painting the buildings on the middle and bottom images near-transparent.

mka design code process 14

Taking pictures of the signs from a “pedestrian’s point of view.” This approach also helps us figure out how each sign is attached to the building, how it looks, what it’s made of, how it’s lit, and what general impression it leaves.

The even side of Tverskaya:

mka design code process 15

On top of it, analyzing old photographs of some of the buildings.

mka design code process 16

One of the crucial parameter for a sign is how high it’s placed on a facade. Equipping ourselves with a distance measuring tool and taking the measurements.

This phase brings us the realization that it’s virtually impossible to find a sign installed below 2,8 m (9,2 ft.) mark throughout the Moscow historic center. Many signs become visible only from across the street.

mka design code process 17
mka design code process 18

Cultural venues of the capital are almost exclusive suppliers of ugly-made signs, banners, and theater bills.

Offering a replacement for some of these venues’ banners.

mka design code process 19

Thinking up a bunch of ideas for Novy Arbat.

mka design code process 20
mka design code process 21
mka design code process 22

Presenting to the customer. Learning about numerous limitations that later prevent any of the ideas from being brought forward. Ending up with just the signs on Novy Arbat, but counterbalancing it with more freedom compared to the main streets and the historical sector.

Moving on to the opening part of the sign code. First approach.

mka design code process 23
mka design code process 24

Initially, typesetting it in A2 format.

mka design code process 25

It shows lack of legibility. Redoing the layout into A3. Auto format adjusting in InDesign fails sometimes.

mka design code process 26
mka design code process 27

Increasing the type size, retypesetting the code once more, adding the cross mark to the bad guys.

Now it’s all clear and can be read even from a small screen.

mka design code process 28
mka design code process 29

Putting the materials together and sending it to the customer.

Order a design...