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Jandos Rothstein

New York Mag’s Gorgeous Airport Layout

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 11/21/2007-11:43 AM

How would you organize a theoretical magazine for hospital administrators? They are probably baffled by the Dick and Jane simplicity of ordinary magazine and newspaper structure.

I'm thinking there would need to be a separate numbering system for the tops and bottoms of pages; a supplement that could only be accessed when the main book is turned to page 43; and probably interwoven articles that one could read by following a color-coded text. But what mere designer has a mind, um, "scientific" enough to design it? The only option might be to hire an MD to DD.

Airport signage, on the other hand, seems to translate quite well to the editorial environment, as New York demonstrated the other week. I haven't flown in or out of the city in years, but New York turns what is essentially a service journalism piece into an engaging and entertaining package with captivating information graphics, tables and fascinating but trivial factoids.

The photography is nothing special, but it still seems vibrant because of context. This works particularly well on the opening spread where the lead art serves as both illustration and infographic: backed-up planes are listed by how late they were to their destinations the day the photo was taken.

The translation of airport signage to page architecture is an obvious move, but New York handles it with enough aplomb that the conceit does not become boring or repetitive-even through dubious sidebars about decent airport meals.

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