Street signs are necessary graphic interventions in modern life. They help direct traffic, tell us where to walk across, bike, or park, warn us of construction and disruptions. But when a city’s 8.6 million people have all but evacuated from shared spaces, what role do the signs play now in a time of the coronavirus pandemic? Dylan Coonrad, a creative director at Cannon Design has reimagined New York City’s mundane street signs for the current socially distanced era. Even if you might be going through difficult times now, the revised signage should elicit a smile. In an article for the firm’s website, Coonard shared this latest creative endeavor, inspired by what he sees on the runs he takes daily around his neighborhood in Brooklyn.
All images by Dylan Coonrad of Cannon Design
As New York goes on pause and residents are mandated to keep a safe distance from one another, the signage has become suddenly out of date. Coonrad explains in the article that as he ran through empty streets and past vacant businesses, “I found myself paying attention to the road signs along my route. I’ve seen them countless times, but with each footstep, I really focused on what they were telling me: cross the street, do not enter, no parking, speed bump ahead. These were the rules of the road just weeks ago. Now they’re less important. Today, society needs constant reminders to socially distance, stay home, protect our elders, and much more. It crossed my mind that these universally recognizable street signs could be totems for the messages we need in these unprecedented times.”
Coonard is specific to say that he doesn’t intend for street signs to actually be changed, but the conceptual exercise is really a “love letter” to New York City, to the people that we miss in these times, and that signage might be way to help society adapt and bring it together. In more detail, Coonard tells Untapped New York that “Some [signs] are meant to be simple translations of the former message. Others flip the original intent to be something more celebratory or cautionary. In either case, I hope it captures a spirit of unity.”
Here are more of Coonrad’s signage. Enjoy!