Saturday, 23 November 2013


London Underground by design_Mark Ovenden.
published by the penguin group, 2013

notes and quotes:

'To travel the Underground is to travel through design time.  One hundred and fifty years of it.' (p6)

'With the passing of the decades and with electrification of the Underground came greater coherence.  With electric lighting came white glazed tiling that was to influence the style of Underground stations from Budapest to Paris (which lifted London's emerging design ethos wholesale).  And all the while, thanks to its decade long head start, London Underground was haphazardly forging, from the scramble of the vying companies' ambitions, a design code, architectural language and 'brand identity'.  Not that any of these terms of concepts existed as such.' (p7)

'the greatest patron of the arts whom this century has so far produced in England, and indeed the ideal patron of our age.'  -Nikolaus Pevsner describing Frank Pick (Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon PevsnerCBEFBA (30 January 1902 – 18 August 1983) was a German-born British scholar of history of art and, especially, of history of architecture.

Frank Pick, publicity officer, commercial manager and finally managing director of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London.  'He steered its branding and identity out of Edwardian age into the modern age.' (p7) he commissioned the typeface designed by Edward Johnston to Pick's brief in 1913, he coordinated signage and architecture across the entire network.

'The birth of a new idea in the nineteenth century - the transport interchange - and unfolds the invention of branding in the plots the organisation of commercial illustration, lettering design and printing into a new discipline called graphic design.  It follows the adaptation of architecture into a commercial tool.  It also roundly celebrates the Titans of engineering and design, individuals like Benjamin Baker who built a transport system so coherent, it paved the way for London to grow into the international city it is now.' (p7)

chapter_01: establishing a New style of Railway
underground trains began running beneath the streets of London in January 1863.  First in the world of its kind.  'A feat of engineering that embraced typically visionary Victorian values, but the design of the stations, vehicles, passenger information, maps and other printed ephemera was equally impressive for its day.' (p10)

'What would become one of Britain's greatest achievements in the design of the public built environment had its beginnings in the 1860s; indeed, information graphics and concepts such as 'wayfinding' and corporate identity can all trace their roots to this period.' (p10)

Railway was to be hidden entirely underground, first time in history.  Pearson (true visionary of the Underground railway concept, his proposal dates back to 1845 when he envisaged a Fleet Valley rail tunnel.  1846-proposed a huge central London rail terminal shared by all the operators and approached the Underground.  Prompted the plan in 1854, 'Metropolitan Railway' between Praed Street and Farringdon which grew into the scheme that opened in 1863, months after his death.)  recognised that all that way required above ground was the basic protection of stairway down to the platforms below.' (p11)

station design, 1860-63
digging up an entire road, covering with bricks, lining it with replacement road surface was disruptive

sans-serifs, 1816-present
sans-serif letterforms were used on posters, signage and handbills
Sans-serif type became the letterform of choice not just for many of Britain's early mainline rail companies, but for the Met, District, the Underground, and later, British Rail, with the Paris Metro and most American sub-surface rail companies following suit (p22)

Sunday, 17 November 2013


planning and organising - starting a detailed project plan

write down all the questions that you want to investigate:
-how has the iconic design of the Underground contributed to London as a major world city?
-how has the first Underground system in the world influenced other cities metro systems?
-how has Frank Pick contributed to the overall design of the London Underground?
-how have the designs developed throughout the 150 years?
-are the original designs still being used?
-how has the design and the general tube system helped to make the Underground an integral part of London living?
-have the designs changed throughout the years due to historical events, politics etc.?
-how has the branding become internationally recognised?
-what is the connection with the London Underground and art and design now?

A4 first thoughts sheet (written and practical)
what is the purpose of the study?
To find out the contribution the tube system has had to London over the years.  To look at the impact the branding and identity of the system has had across the world and how it has reached iconic status.  To look at how it has influenced other metro systems around the world.
decide on a working title:
'How has the iconic design of the Underground contributed to the success of London as a major world city?'

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Tom Cavanagh has replied to the email I sent:

Hi Kate,
You can e-mail me the questions and I will try and answer them.

I now need to think of some planned and structured questions that are directed at my COP3 question but must also consider Tom's area of expertise within Transport for London design (mostly poster art)
key question: 'How has the iconic design of the Underground contributed to London as a major world city?'

Hi Tom,

Im at the early stages of developing some of my research and varied primary research would really further my investigation.  I'm basically looking for some evidence in terms of artwork/posters that could help answer my main question which is:

'How has the iconic design of the Underground contributed to the success of London as a major world city?' so any response from you is a quote from an informed, reliable source which would really help.

I've tried to formulate two questions that could work with my dissertation

1. Do you think the posters/artwork of London Underground have contributed or helped raise the profile of London as a major world city?

2. To your knowledge have other underground systems used or imitated London's revolutionary graphics to promote their own subterranean transport systems? 

I don't know if these are perhaps too broad to answer?  Or if I need to direct it more to a specific piece of artwork/poster for the question to be more structured for you to answer?

Thanks for your time,


toms reply:
Hi Kathryn
My answers are below
1. Do you think the posters/artwork of London Underground have contributed or helped raise the profile of London as a major world city?
I do not think the LU posters alone have but the combination of LU Art and Industry could have raised the profile in a small way.
2. To your knowledge have other underground systems used or imitated London's revolutionary graphics to promote their own subterranean transport systems? 
No Other Underground company have used posters extensively like the LU have.

Friday, 8 November 2013


first cop tutorial
I had my first tutorial today with Phil which basically helped me to get a better understanding of the structure of the essay and organising the project in a more successful and effective manner.  As it was the first tutorial we went over the basics of how to start organising the essay and looking at possible directions for research.

I feel I now need to properly organise everything I've done so far and write everything up in a structured way, this week I will aim to start piecing together some paragraphs whilst undertaking more research.

notes from the tutorial - structuring

  • 4-6 chapters 
  • abstract 
summary of what the argument is, main points I'm covering, stating what you're going to tell

  • contents
  • introduction
introducing question - brief outline of what you're doing.  Who, what, why? Tell the reader what you're going to do - lay out all information

  • main body of discussion
different number of chapters - discuss research - case studies - analysis and evaluation of discussion - own opinion - don't put anything that you cant prove

  • conclusions and findings
state clearly - answer the main question - rationale - definite conclusion
further suggestions for research, if another person was to build on your research what further questions would arise 

  • bibliography
references, source materials

tutorial record

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


primary underground photographs.
Whilst in London I documented some signage and typography from the underground, a couple of quick photos to build on some initial visual research.  Whilst using the tube over the weekend you can see how the design is still the same just transformed slightly in terms of keeping things up to date.  The design however is timeless, the same type face is used, the roundel has not been changed, the map is still Harry Becks design and some of the stations have still maintained some of the original architecture.


methodology & critical analysis.


How the information you have found is ...
Refer back to previous lectures that have emphasised  the importance of evidence

You need to clearly evidence why you selected these methods of gathering information and selecting evidence and why they are the most
appropriate for your study...
This will make you appear to be in control and aware of what you are doing...
methodology - A systematic way of sifting through information to get to the point - occur in an introduction

dictionary definition:
•noun, plural -gies. 1. a set or system of methods, principles, and rules for regulating a given discipline, as in the arts or sciences.
•2. Philosophy . a. the underlying principles and rules of organization of a philosophical system or inquiry procedure.
•b. the study of the principles underlying the organization of the various sciences and the conduct of scientific inquiry.
•3. Education . a branch of pedagogics dealing with analysis and evaluation of subjects to be taught and of the methods of teaching

To describe and analyse… methods, throwing light on their limitations and resources, clarifying their suppositions and consequences,
relating their potentialities to the twilight zone at the frontiers of knowledge… (Kaplan, 1973:93)

It is not that we must somehow ‘please’ our critical colleague audiences; the deeper issue is to avoid self delusion. After that we can
turn to the task about how we did study, and what worried us about its quality. Without such methodological frankness, we run the
risk of reporting ‘knowledge that ain’t so’. (Miles & Huberman, 1994:294)

These can help you decide upon the methods you use
Alternatively the material you find may suggest the appropriate theories
•noun, plural the·o·ries. 1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as
principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.
•2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions
that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate. Antonyms: practice, verification,
corroboration, substantiation.
•3. Mathematics . a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
•4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
•5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles: conflicting
theories of how children best learn to read.

Choose at least one key theory that relates to the material you are looking at...
Examples of theories often used by students:
•Psychological- S.Freud; C.Jung; J.Lacan; L.Mulvey etc.
•Communication theory- J.Fiske, etc.
•Postcolonialism- Spivak, Said, Bhabha etc.
•Social History of Art- T.J.Clarke, J.Berger etc.
•Marxism / Post-Marxism- Frankfurt School
•Gender Studies / Feminist- G.Pollock; L.Nochlin

action research
Choose the Theories and Methods most appropriate to your subject
one_methods, two_theory, three_application
1. Make decisions about how to collect and order  information
2. Choose a relevant theoretical stand point
3. Apply these to your study
4. Explicitly outline this in the introduction. Address suggested failings in the conclusion.

dictionary definition
from the Greek word Kreinein, meaning to separate or to choose
Reasoned Thinking
‘Stepping away’ and using evidence and logic to come to your conclusions 

finding ways to disprove hypothesis and left with 'truth' being critical, the opposite of being emotive or suggestive informed body of
research with a critical approach

some perspectives that you might adopt or consider


say something with conviction and bias and back it up with loads of research, if you don't agree with something then don't
pay 'lip service' to something you think is wrong...make everything clear in the methodology different approaches lead to 
different results.

Where was the author/artist/designer/photographer situated?
Try to consider different points of view...where the creator was coming from intellectually; emotionally; philosophically,
being critical is about interrogating the sources that you're using.  
where are you coming from, you're particular take on things
where am I coming from? How is my choice of topic influenced by my emotions; aspirations; context?

context is everything

Consider the influence of one or more of the following:
the time; place; society; politics; economics; technology; philosophy; scientific thought.... 
everything you look at, case studies of whatever- how does the time and place affect its meaning how did political issues affect this...
changes/development in do they all relate or inform what you're looking at, what and why was the designer making?
how does this relate to other stuff going on?
critical analysis
as you're writing, don't just make points, always back up with evidence, evidence could be quotes, empirical, data from surveys etc.

what is the evidence for what you're saying?  Could you find more evidence to support your conclusion?
always try and find more than one source to support conclusions


think about an argument that progresses

argument - what do you want to say?
have I got the evidence to back it up?
where else do I need to look in order to find more evidence?

evidence that you have looked at more than one source and can find an answer within a multitude of theories
assess a number of different takes on one topic
and then find you're stance on it

Pitting alternative theories against the same body of data

a clear logical plan
Keep it simple- refine what you want to say and focus on a few key issue
Look into your key issues in depth and bring in the maximum evidence in to support your views
Discuss your issues and the evidence you have found in a clear and logical manner
Move from the general to the specific
You need to show the reader that you are evaluating the evidence for its relevance and reliability
Evaluation= Looking at and coming to conclusions about the value of your evidence

critical analysis of a text step by step
Step one
Identify an aspect of your specialist subject that you would like to explore.

Step two
Select a writer or theorist and a particular piece of writing about your specialist subject.

Step three
                Make notes that Identify the key points in the writing.

Step four
What evidence is used to support or 'prove' the key points'.

Step five
Is it convincing?
What else needs to be said in order to 'prove' the key points?

Step six
Write a response to the piece of writing and comment on:
the implications for your work; do you agree/ disagree with what has been said ? Does it help to support your views/ argument?
the thoughts you have had as the result of reading this piece;
on the evidence used by the writer.

visual analysis, step by step
The following prompts could be used when analysing a piece of visual work:
Look at and comment upon the significance of the use of...
Line; Colour; Tone; Texture; Form; Composition; etc.
How are these related to the function of, or ‘message’ communicated by, the piece?
How are they related to context; media and materials available ;technology; attitudes prevalent at the time the work was made?
What evidence do you have to support your conclusions?