About this project
A portion of the proceeds will go to Earthjustice’s programmatic expenses in their mission to protect the environment and AIGA’s operational expenses for its Design Archives, which identify, preserve, and make collections of enduring value available to the public.
Before 1970, the United States was in a radically different place.
Our environment, our cities, our people: abused, dirty, and sick after years of neglect.
President Nixon decided to change that. In 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was enacted to protect the environment and the American people.
One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top priorities was consolidating numerous state offices––research activities, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities––to more efficiently carry out its goal of “working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.”
But there was one area in which the EPA—like many government agencies of the time—was terribly inefficient: their graphic design and communications department. Millions of dollars were being wasted annually due to non-standardized formats, inefficient processes, and almost everything being designed from scratch.
Enter design firm Chermayeff & Geismar Associates and partner Steff Geissbühler.
In 1977, the EPA began working with the legendary New York design firm Chermayeff & Geismar Associates (now Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv), responsible for some of the most recognizable visual identities in the world, such as Chase Bank, PBS, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, Mobil Oil, and NBC.
Partners Ivan Chermayeff, Tom Geismar, and Steff Geissbühler set about tackling this problem.
The result was the 1977 US EPA Graphic Standards System.
It is extraordinary for me—as someone from a different generation—to see this comprehensive and well-designed graphic system for a government agency, especially in a time when the role and competence of government in general is called into question. This document is a time capsule.
—Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv
Like the NASA Graphics Standards Manual, the EPA manual was commissioned as a result of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) “Federal Graphics Improvement Program.” This manual beautifully encapsulates the role design has played in advancing federal programs for public good.
It is also an extremely rare manual––even in the design world. It hasn’t received the praise it deserves since most designers simply haven’t seen it.
Through this campaign, the team hopes to demonstrate how much the EPA means to the design community and to preserve this amazing piece of design history.
40 years after it was released, we are reissuing the EPA Graphic Standards System as a hardcover book.
The reissue will be produced using high quality scans of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv and Steff Geissbühler's personal copies. Every page will be printed at the same size as the original and will use the same vibrant Pantone® inks, totaling 14 colors (10 Pantone® spot colors + CMYK).
The sheets will be printed on the right side of each spread, with the section dividers including the front and back sides—this is consistent with the original ring-binder format.
The reissue will also include 48 pages of photographs from the EPA-commissioned Documerica Project (1970-1977). More on that below.
Same size as the original manual
9.5 x 11.5"
241 x 292mm
10 Pantone® spot colors + CMYK (14 colors total)
2 recycled paper stocks
Recycled board slipcase with blind deboss
Printed in Italy
• Foreword by Tom Geismar (Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)
• Essay by Christopher Bonanos (New York Magazine, Instant: The Story of Polaroid)
• Every page of the original EPA Graphic Standards System
• 48 pages of photographs from the EPA-commissioned Documerica Project
Each copy will be protected in a custom made slipcase, built from recycled board and blind embossed with the EPA logo. The interior of the slipcase will be lined with self-colored blue paper, mimicking the blue print on the cover of the manual.
Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv
Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, founded in 1957 (Previously Chermayeff & Geismar / Chermayeff & Geismar Associates), is a graphic design firm famous for designing some of the most recognized logos in the world, including those for Chase Bank, NBC, Mobil Oil, Showtime Networks, PBS, National Geographic, Barneys New York, and, recently, the Library of Congress, Harvard University Press, Conservation International, and RatPac Entertainment. Based in New York City, the firm is led by its founding partners, designers Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, partner and designer Sagi Haviv, and principal designer Mackey Saturday.
In addition to the reproduction of the original EPA manual pages, we will be including 48 pages of photographs from the EPA-commissioned Documerica Project (1970-1977).
Documerica’s goal was to “photographically document subjects of environmental concern” from 1972–1977.
Almost 70 photographers were commissioned, including Charles O’Rear, Yoichi Okamoto, John H. White, Anne LaBastille, Boyd Norton, Danny Lyon, Marc St. Gil, William Strode, Gene Daniels, Erik Calonius, John H. White, Jack Corn, Tomas Sennett, and Ken Heyman.
The series is a fascinating—and truly beautiful—snapshot of America.
Scanning and reproduction
Each page of the original manual will be scanned at 2400dpi, original spot colors will extracted, and then the image will be offset printed with a stochastic screen.
This method allows us to retain every detail of the original, including the stunning 10 Pantone® spot colors.
What are the differences between the original and the reissue?
The original Standards Manual is held in a 3 ring binder. Each page inside the binder measures 8.5 x 11", with tab pages slightly wider (9").
The reissue will be Smyth (section) sewn rather than ring bound. Each page will measure 9.5 x 11.5", so we can include a 0.25" border around each scan to ensure we can print the full 8.5 x 11" scan.
We have partnered with The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) for this special reissue. The original EPA manual was gifted by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv to the AIGA Design Archives, which serves to identify, preserve, and make design collections of enduring value available to the public.
This program dovetails with our goal to archive and preserve lost artifacts of design history and make them available to future generations.
A portion of proceeds from every book sold will go to Earthjustice. As the nation’s original and largest nonprofit environmental law organization, Earthjustice leverages their expertise and commitment to fight for justice and advance the promise of a healthy world for all.
Printing and shipping
Our printer has a company-wide policy that is particularly sensitive to environmental issues and dedicated to sustainable production. They reinforce this commitment by aligning themselves with new international protocols for the creation of products with minimal environmental impact.
Books will be shipped by our distributor D.A.P.––America’s premier source for books on twentieth century art, photography, design and aesthetic culture.
Each book will be carefully packaged for transit.
Our last two books have been delivered on time, and we expect to do the same for this project. We take our schedule very seriously, and it is much more aggressive than traditional publishers (who can take 1-2 years to conceptualize, design, print, and ship books).
As graphic designers who have designed and printed numerous books ourselves, we appreciate high-quality publishing and know what it takes to produce a high-quality art book.
Our last two books, also funded on Kickstarter, speak for themselves:
Jesse Reed, jessereedfromohio.com
Hamish Smyth, hamishsmyth.com
Jesse Reed & Hamish Smyth, Partners
Standards Manual, standardsmanual.com
Vann Alexandra, vannalexandra.com
Edo Van Breemen
Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv staff
Vann Alexandra staff
Most of all, thank you.
Hamish & Jesse
Risks and challenges
Having designed and produced both the reissue of the NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual and the NASA Graphics Standards Manual for Kickstarter, as well as other books outside the platform, we feel confident we can deliver a great product.
As we did with our last two projects, we will be reviewing hard copy proofs of every page before printing. When the book is being printed, we will be visiting the printing plant to conduct a press check to ensure the reproduction is faithful to the original and of the highest quality.
We plan on working closely with our printer to ensure the smoothest production possible and, if funded, we plan on updating backers regularly on each step of the process, as we have done in the past.
On the distribution side, we will be working with D.A.P.––America’s premier source for books on twentieth century art, photography, design and aesthetic culture. We couldn’t be more confident in their ability to deliver rewards in as smooth and timely a manner possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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