We are launching PUBLIC WORKS this week. We invited twenty-seven world renowned designers to interpret the concept of “public” with a vision to improve our cities and how the bicycle can play a part. The launch begins with exhibitions of twenty-seven large-scale posters in San Francisco at California College of the Arts (October 9th – 11th) and in New York at the FLOS Gallery (October 18th – 25th). All these posters can be viewed and purchased online and through our stores now, and we will have a book, t-shirts, and other products available shortly.
The impetus for PUBLIC WORKS is to bring greater attention to the critical issues of public space, access, and livability of our cities. If anyone doubts that designers can greatly improve our public world, one only needs to look at the impact that Milton Glaser’s iconic I heart New York logo and slogan had on New York. Glaser came up with this logo in 1977, a time when New York was struggling financially and culturally. Crime and crack dealers were rampant in all neighborhoods. Subways had become unsafe and The Federal Government was unwilling to help out. President Ford made headlines in the New York Daily News and the infamous headline “ Ford to New York: Drop Dead”.
What to do? Rudy Giuliani had one solution- come down hard on crime. Milton Glaser had another – create love for the city. He created his logo pro bono because he cared so much for the city and because he is an extraordinary public citizen. Such an act of generosity – the logo inspired a song and seeded a million other derivative marketing efforts around the world. It may be the greatest piece of public design and the most influential modern logo ever created. And the logo just gets better over time.
We can’t expect Milton’s poster for PUBLIC, nor the other twenty six PUBLIC WORKS and designers to have the same impact, but these works will bring attention to many of the key issues for our cities and our public world that are often overlooked, taken for granted, and even contested. We are in a period when Federal funding for cities, like national health care and public education are suffering from a lack of federal support. We realize this everyday when we ride smack into a pothole or walk for blocks to find a safe bike rack.