After New York Media merged with Vox Media in fall 2019, we were tasked with bringing Curbed
, formerly a Vox network, into the New York
family of sites. This project involved both rebranding, redesigning and migrating the site onto a new platform, as well as some consideration for more focused New York-centric coverage. The project was the first joint effort post merger, and the team consisted of editorial and product designers and editorial staff from both pre-merger organizations. It won the silver medal for best homepage redesign at the 2021 Society of Publication Designers Awards.
My Role: editorial product design director
The Team: Head of Creative, Ian Adelman | Lead Identity & product designer, Marcus Peabody | Senior Product designer, Heather Shoon | Visuals art Director, Stevie Remsberg | Product Manager, Jenny Barrett | engineers, Keren Lerner, Maria Mera, Maria Fernandez
curbed: Home screen design
Curbed originally had multiple city sites across the US. When it moved into the New York stable it became more geographically focused content, and where New York magazine's interior design and architecture and urbanism coverage moved. We developed a homepage design that suggested the irregularity and denseness of urban environment, with the negative spaces creating a pathway down and through the content on the page.
curbed: home screen interactions
“I have a certain way of thinking about things, which includes the use of ambiguity to arrive at clarity...
This sounds like jargon, but it simply means that when you convey information most effectively, you create a disruptive moment where the viewer has to solve a small puzzle. And the reason for using a puzzle is that things that are said directly and obviously are very often ignored.
Since the brain is constructed to decode information, the brain likes puzzles. So you look at something, first you ask, ‘what is that?’ and then you say, ‘oh, I get it.’ There’s an interval between seeing something and understanding it, which is critical.”
The logo developed out of a lot of research and many different threads, as seen in some of the imagery above. It could be interpreted as any of the following: A tightly packed city grid of streets with a park, a multi story building facade with a window, a wheat pasted poster on a wall. Traffic Jams, property lines, routes and navigating, skyscrapers were some of the other concepts worked into the solution. The logo designer created a canonical stacked variation (seen on home screen), an animated variation (the bumped RB interaction seen on homepage), and a horizontal variation where the vertical format was prohibitive, for example on article headers and navigation.
Curbed: indentity type system
One of the main goals with the redesign was to create a unique identity and brand expression for the site, but one which still very much felt a part of the New York family. We achieved this mainly by retaining the use of Miller, a universally shared font on all other New York sites and also in the print magazine, as a foundational font for Curbed. This was paired with Antique No 6 as the main accent font, part of the Caslon Ionic family of fonts recently drawn by Commercial Type. Only the one bold weight was available, so they also drew a roman weight for us.
Curbed: Identity TYPE SYSTEM
In our early research we identified Clarendons (first designed in 1845, now a genre of its own with many) as fonts that had the right tone, a combination of utilitarian, approachable and relatively gender neutral. It has been in use for over a century, yet is under appreciated for all its ubiquitousness. As familiar and everyday as your neighbor, commonly visible in urban environments as signage, utilitarian, but despite that has retained a respectability and bookishness.
Lookbook is a street style photo essay article series that has been running in the pages of New York since 2004, it has now found a home on Curbed.
Curbed: visual feature lede
A new lede design for articles was developed to better serve the photo essays and visual story telling that interior design journalism relies on. This fully responsive feature lede has a complimentary component which is an immersive sequence of images that cross fade, creating an almost filmic experience. This story type compliments another image gallery template (see article system section
) which is a higher volume image browsing/scanning experience, for less "special" photographs, with a vertical scroll based UX.
Curbed: social media and color
We decided that more than one accent color for the site was appropriate for Curbed. We were focused on integrating themes around diversity and difference within urban populations, as well as playing on the idea of the traffic light system. We also looked at colors commonly found in city environments. Neon, reflective signage, traffic cones, construction zones, synthetic hues. Also seen here are some simple templates for social media treatments.
Curbed: editorial ART DIRECTION
We created a style guide for in house illustrators to give some of the run of the mill stock imagery more of its own identity, one that aligns better with the overall brand using the accent colors as a base. A lot of generic supplied renderings and cityscapes required coming up with some simple and quick to execute treatments.