Airport infrastructure is designed to be practical, not pretty. But graphic designer Mike Bain makes it beautiful enough to hang on your wall. His latest project is a series of limited edition silkscreen prints of the abstracted runways of five American airports–in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Newark, and Washington D.C.–rendered as colorful geometric compositions. “I think that infrastructure can be really beautiful, if it’s presented in a creative way,” Bain says.
“I’ve obsessed with everything aviation for a while now,” Bain says. That includes planespotting, listening to air traffic control, and renting three hours in a full motion 747 simulator at American Airlines’ Pilot Training Center in Texas. To turn his love of aviation into a design project, he started looking at airports from an abstracted perspective, seeing them as collections of runway lines. These intersecting lines look like strange typographic symbols: San Francisco’s looks like a hyperextended hashtag; D.C.’s somehow resembles the Dead Kennedys’ logo. Bain then extended planes of color from the white lines, making them resemble intersecting panes of bright stained glass.
If you live in one of these five cities, these runway lines are among the first things you see out an airplane window while flying back home, and the posters serve as an unusual expression of hometown pride.