The General Assembly

As predicted I had a ball in New York. What a great place. The icing on the cake was spending 3 days at a conference in the United Nations Headquarters. I got the impression most of the delegates took the surroundings for granted, while I was obsessing over the typography, the chairs and the general ephemera of international relations, 1950s-style.


In the conference room there were two rows of chairs in different colours - one row for delegates, the second for alternates. The desks had little microphones, an earpiece and a space for a nameplate if I'd been a country there on diplomatic business. The nameplates were sitting out at the back in a huge pile, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe with the Holy See sitting out on top.

Phone booths

Outside the conference room there were these phone boxes, and the best thing was they usually had two or three people in national dress in them, making an urgent call. It was like an old film. And everything else in the building was beautiful. The assembly rooms are spectacular, in a Cold War, Dr Strangelove kind of way. It's a combination of modernist aesthetics with the most beautiful colours and fantastic detail - classic typography, muted lighting and great seating.


It was hard to do it all justice without a better camera but here's the United Nations Flickr set. There are much better picures in The UN Building by Ben Murphy, some of which are also on his website. The book also has the background on how it was built - the committee of international architects, Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer among them must have tested diplomatic protocol to its limits before the place was even built.

Glad to hear that you had fun. It's such a great place.

i like i like anyway, but now i like i like even more for your julian cope references.

it's nice to see nations of the world are held together with elastic bands.

Very jealous; the UN looks amazing. Can I nick a bit of type for Ace Jet's Friday thing? (Those name plates perhaps?)

Hi Richard. I'd be honoured. Help yourself. There are more on the Flickr set too if that's any use.

Thanks Anne!

That looked like a brilliant trip. New York is an amazing place, but getting into the UN must have been quite special. What was the conference?

Feel free to correct my previous comment ('s!). I hate it when I do that.

Hi Richard - I was going to say don't worry about the typo, but having read about your habits obviously you will. I've corrected it.

The conference was Web for Development or Web4Dev (here - a group of website managers who work in development organisations. Development as in working in developing countries, not web development. So people like the UN, World Bank etc. I work for the UK government department that deals with international aid, so these are my people.

Thanks for correcting me Anne. And for the use of your pics.

I remember being utterly overwhelmed by this place when I was taken there aged 17. I've always wanted to go back and see it through adult eyes. My collection of UN books keeps growing!
Congrats on getting behind the scenes where the details hide out and capturing some of them so well.

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