Craig Ward is a New York-based designer and his latest project face one of those urban myths of the city’s subway: whenever you hold the handrails on the train, you’re effectively shaking hands with 100 different people. He transformed bacteria found on the New York subway into typography.

“It was one of those lovely chemical reactions in the brain when two completely separate things suddenly click into one coherent idea,” says Ward. “The circular shape of the petri dish echoed the graphic language of the New York subway and all of a sudden I had a project for the summer.” Ward’s idea was to obtain samples from a single train from each of the city’s subway lines and try to grow the corresponding letters or numerals out of them. After trying unsuccessfully to obtain samples using papers and cotton swabs, another abstract memory saved the day. “The sponge in your sink is basically the most bacteria-ridden thing in your entire house, air pockets and holes make it perfect for accruing germs. So I ended up cutting letters from dish sponges like you’d find at home,” Ward says. He even traced the letters in Helvetica Bold – as per the subway signage – before sterilising them in a microwave. More on the official website.

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