September 20, 2018
To kick off TBTT I decided to go big and redesign a piece of San Francisco history: the Muni logo. This logo has been redesigned in an unofficial capacity a number of times, and sometimes, with great controversy. In the late 90’s an Academy of Art College student’s design proposal was met with criticism from the SF design community and the city abandoned implementation. In 2014 local designer D.Kim addressed the formal inconsistencies of the original and created an elegant refresh.
The current logo, or more accurately the logotype was designed by Walter Landor in 1975. It is known as the ‘worm’ as it features an undulating worm-like movement of positive and negative space which define the letters m-u-n-i.
The idea of public transport worming its way through and around a city is appropriate but I would have explored other conceptual metaphors. Formally, I think the mark is unresolved. The “i” looks somewhat detached from the stylistic device used to render the other letterforms. I also think that the twisty, worm waves are spaced too tightly together, creating a dense form which diminishes legibility from distance and at smaller sizes. The variance in stroke thickness also adds to the dense and dated feel of the mark.
My goal in the redesign was to pay homage to the original, yet make something totally new and modern. I didn’t want to replicate an aggressive or sterile solution as evidenced by many public transit identities. My solution was to render an amorphous capital ‘M’ with soft, friendly flowing lines. Bisecting the shape is a wave-like detail that references the meandering worm in the original. The wave detail creates an upper and lower component. The upper component creates a lowercase ‘m’ and the lower component can be deconstructed to reveal the remaining ‘u’, ‘n’ and ‘i’ letters.
Red is a color of extremes, it energizes, ignites, evokes emotions both good and bad. In my opinion these traits should not be associated with public transportation. My redesign utilizes a more calming blue, cobalt color. The overall intent of this redesign was to create a timeless mark that conveys a safe, friendly, comfortable efficiency.
Would love to hear what you think, please vote for “this” or “that” and post your comments below. Thanks!