LEAVE IT ALONE
Designers are often asked to dust off a brand, tinker with a logo or typography, or rework a shape or image to increase its appeal to a contemporary market. Often what’s done is not an improvement. There are some designs that should have a preservation order slapped on them to prevent an overzealous marketer from ruining them. Imagine Harry Beck’s iconic London Underground map being redrawn (of course, it has been tweaked and updated over the years since his final 1960 version), or the font that Edward Johnston developed for that same map being replaced by something with serifs? When such a thing as a public phone still existed, the reputable London design firm that was asked to “rethink” the classic British telephone box should just have responded nicely, “No, thank you—they’re fine as they are,” or at least should have made something in the boothlike new ones a token phone-box red. Imagine some genius deciding New York taxis should be anything other than yellow. Or if the apple symbol on the object you’re probably reading this on was thrown out. Unthinkable? Sadly, all too often, it isn’t.
Some things have been reworked well: the Mini Cooper, the VW Beetle. Here are a few of my entries for the leave-us-as-we-are hall of fame taken at random from my kitchen cupboard. Long may they be ignored.—LUCY SISMAN