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)

No comments:

Post a Comment