Richard Danne was involved with NASA starting in the ’70s, and among his peers, the mood was dark. “A lot of us felt that our country…was way behind,” he explains. Not in terms of the space race, which we were winning, but “in terms of design’s role in society.”
Danne wasn’t a test pilot or engineer, but a graphic designer. In 1973 he formed the Danne and Blackburn design studio with partner Bruce Blackburn, and just a year later the fledgling firm had landed a big-league contract: To design the graphics standards for NASA.
NASA sported Danne & Blackburn’s design work for some 18 years, until a new Director canned it in 1992. Now Pentagram partners/designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth, the guys who got the 1970s New York City Transit Authority’s Graphics Standards Manual back into print last year, are looking to do the same for Danne & Blackburn’s NASA work.
The response on Kickstarter has been tremendous; at press time they’d garnered $650,000 on a $158,000 target. Bringing back classic graphic design is big business, it seems; their earlier NYCTA campaign landed $802,812 on a $108,000 goal.
For those of you who’d like a copy of the NASA book, there’s still 27 days left. Buy-in starts at $79.
Given Danne’s background in design that has been to outer space, we tried to contact him to see if he knows the architect of the Death Star. Our messages were not returned.