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University
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Bob Noorda and modern graphics for Pirelli and for the Milan Metro

In 1964, the jury of the Compasso d’Oro gave the award to an major project for Milan: its first Metro line, the 21-station Linea Rossa, which linked Sesto Marelli to Lotto. The prize was awarded to the architects Franco Albini and Franca Helg, and to the graphic designer Bob Noorda, for the installation and signage, which was considered to be a “pioneering example of a unified system that incorporates architectural, graphic, and furnishing elements”. Pirelli, too, contributed to the project, with some subsidiary companies in the “miscellaneous items” sector, providing not only numerous technical accessories for the trains, escalators, service systems, and pipes, but also the flooring, which was used in all the stations. This floor covering was made of Pirelli rubber with little circles in relief on the surface – a design specially studied together with the designers of the stations, and the first example in Europe of this type of covering used for a metro system. It was an important part of the project, as the motivation given for the award shows. It was for “the technological and dimensional organisation of the internal surfaces of the various areas and the contrasting elements of the materials”. Bob Noorda’s work on the signage for the metro and its “M” logo was truly pioneering and was influential around the world. The Dutch graphic designer had worked for a decade with Pirelli, having started with the company upon his arrival in Milan in 1952. He helped introduce a modern form of graphics to the Milanese company’s advertising campaigns, which until then had been entrusted to illustrators and painters. In 1994 Noorda was awarded the Compasso d’Oro for Lifetime Achievement, “for his exceptional contribution both to the art of visual communication, with the interpretation and often with a clarification of the message, and to inventive graphic art, not uncommonly opening up new forms of expression of value”.

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In 1964, the jury of the Compasso d’Oro gave the award to an major project for Milan: its first Metro line, the 21-station Linea Rossa, which linked Sesto Marelli to Lotto. The prize was awarded to the architects Franco Albini and Franca Helg, and to the graphic designer Bob Noorda, for the installation and signage, which was considered to be a “pioneering example of a unified system that incorporates architectural, graphic, and furnishing elements”. Pirelli, too, contributed to the project, with some subsidiary companies in the “miscellaneous items” sector, providing not only numerous technical accessories for the trains, escalators, service systems, and pipes, but also the flooring, which was used in all the stations. This floor covering was made of Pirelli rubber with little circles in relief on the surface – a design specially studied together with the designers of the stations, and the first example in Europe of this type of covering used for a metro system. It was an important part of the project, as the motivation given for the award shows. It was for “the technological and dimensional organisation of the internal surfaces of the various areas and the contrasting elements of the materials”. Bob Noorda’s work on the signage for the metro and its “M” logo was truly pioneering and was influential around the world. The Dutch graphic designer had worked for a decade with Pirelli, having started with the company upon his arrival in Milan in 1952. He helped introduce a modern form of graphics to the Milanese company’s advertising campaigns, which until then had been entrusted to illustrators and painters. In 1994 Noorda was awarded the Compasso d’Oro for Lifetime Achievement, “for his exceptional contribution both to the art of visual communication, with the interpretation and often with a clarification of the message, and to inventive graphic art, not uncommonly opening up new forms of expression of value”.

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Multimedia

Images