Blog: January 2009

From the reference box #32

From the reference box #32 - a Shell 'Signs of Welcome' tag. I'm not sure where these tags would have been found; maybe in hotels or at service stations, but I'm guessing it originated in the UK during the 60's.

It gives a list of European countries selling Shell Gasoline & Motor Oil and provides the brand name in each of those regions, "many miles from home, you will never be far from a Shell Service Station".

I like it for the little car graphic and the lovely big, rounded corners!

Check out more Reference Box items here.

Metro Maps of the World

I saw the Washington DC underground map on So Much Pileup the other day and it reminded me of a great book I bought a few years ago, Metro Maps of the World by Mark Ovenden. I know it sounds dull, in fact the guy in the book shop actually laughed when I took it to the counter, but it's a fantastic book full of information and pics about underground (and some overground) maps, their history and who created them.

Above right is the very map that started this train (sorry!) of thought and to it's left the 1962 version, which shows on it proposed sections for expansion that are only this decade being constructed! The current Washington map is one of very few Worldwide to have introduced thick lines, copied only by Baltimore.

The most famous underground map is of course that of our very own London Underground. Designed originally by Harry Beck in 1932 and published in 1933 (below right) it replaced Fred Stingemore's 1925 version (below left) which itself was meant to have improved legibility.

Beck's design is iconic. It uses only horizontal, vertical and 45 degree lines joined with uniform curves and bends to create a simplistic and very easy to follow map - a style still used today (see below) and one that has been copied all over the World.

Another well-known underground map is that of the New York City Subway. The first version emerged in the early 1900's (below) and focused only on Manhattan, but showed all the train operators at the time in a very clean and detailed design, very much based on the grid-like NYC street plan.

By 1948 (below left) the whole of NYC had been added. This was one of the first attempts to show all the individual networks on the same pocket map. Previously each service had produced their own maps. Throughout the late 50's and 60's clearer, more stylistic versions of the combined map developed - a style that remained and is hugely successful in one of my favourite versions, the 1972 design (below right).

Throughout this decade though, NYC seem to have moved away from this design and returned to a version (below) very similar to that of the 1948 pocket map.

Looking through the book, it was Moscow's fantastic subway maps that stood out the most for me. Early versions (below left) were in black and white due to the restrictions on materials and they were actually designed by Fred Stingemore, the pre-1933 London Underground designer.

Eventually though, the Russians began producing colour maps and with it the design became more European and stylised as seen above right in this 1967 version.

For me though, it's the 80's versions (below) that are the most inspiring and interesting. I love that they have a 50's feel and at a glance look like diagrams of the solar system with their different sized circles and dotted lines.

The dotted lines actually referred to outer stations and the coloured circles indicated station interchanges. The current version developed throughout the 90's and is much more European and as so many others uses the principals demonstrated in Beck's London Underground map, which might be more legible but certainly doesn't have the charm of the 80's ones.
Click on images to view larger versions.

Images copyright Metro Maps of the World.

Wed 28 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Inspiration , Books , Map



How great are these bird images by Dust Breeding's, Marcus Fischer?

They are created with Letraset transfers - finally I hear you shout, a use for all those half used sheets gathering dust in design studios across the world.

I imagine they take quite a while to produce as they're very detailed, but I hope he does more, it would be great to see a whole collection of them.

Images copyright Marcu s Fischer.
Via Notcot.

Tue 27 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Typography , Illustration


From the reference box #31

# 31 - Do It Yourself Annuals, 1959, 1960 & 1961. I really bought these for the bold graphic covers, but as usual, they are packed with wonderful adverts, articles, illustrations and type:

The '60 and '61 issues also have ads in for the new, DIY Gardener Annual which looks to have had equally great cover designs. I'll have to watch out for one of those.

So there we have it, #31 - DIY Annuals, 1959, 1960 & 1961.

Space Travel Guide

I wish this was in my reference box! I found it on Ebay yesterday but unfortunately it has a buy-it-now of $99.99 (£73.15) which is a little steep, even though it would be a great addition to my vintage moving dial collection.

It's a Space Travel Guide from 1958. It must have been a free giveaway with something and has an ad for Dellwood Milk & Dairy Products on the reverse. However, it's the dial I love - the wheel turns to reveal each planet one at a time, giving it's relative size and diameter compared to Earth. The illustrations are great too with really bold and vibrant colours.

Hopefully I'll find a much cheaper version at a boot sale some time soon!

Images from Ebay auction - copyright Designartistic.

Mon 26 Jan 2009

Posted under: Ephemera , Inspiration , Illustration


Happy Birthday Apple Macintosh!

24 January 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh launch. Of course Apple was going way before this, but Macintosh was the name given to their new breed of computer, launched in 1984.

The Macintosh used an operating system which formed the roots of the OSX systems we use today and it used a mouse, which coined the term MAC - Mouse Activated Computer. It's thought the name Macintosh came from Jef Raskin's (the Apple Macintosh creator's) favourite apple - the McIntosh and the spelling changed to avoid legal problems with an existing company.

Apple launched their new ground-breaking product with a TV ad directed by legendary film-maker, Ridley Scott and aired during the Superbowl on 22 January 1984 - the most expensive ad space in the US. However, unbeknown to many, the ad actually ran for the first time during December 1983 late in the night on a cable channel, in order to qualify for the 1984 creative awards!

Find out more about early Apple computers here.

Image from Business Week.

Sat 24 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Inspiration


Winter Works on Paper

These gorgeous prints are reproduction NY Subway destination scrolls c. 1940. I found them on Winter works on Paper, a great website that has some really unusual, original and reproduction, prints and photography.

Photographer Don Dudenbostel's x-ray pics are definitely worth a look. His collection includes some really beautiful flowers, some sealife and of course, my favourites - the toys.

And here's something you don't see everyday - Japanese woodblock prints of Kimono designs from the 1900's. i think they are actually reproductions, but still very beautiful.

Images copyright to the artists, from Winter Works on Paper.

Vintage 60's Zodiac Posters

How gorgeous are these vintage zodiac prints? I just love the colour combinations and the illustrations. Originally designed by Simboli Design in 1969 for Poster Prints, these bold, bright posters, were used more recently by fashion house, Paul Smith Ltd.

All star signs are available here apart from Gemini,which has already sold out! They're 24" x 36" and signed by the artist (Joe or Gerry Simboli).

Via Orange You Lucky.

Thu 22 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Typography , Inspiration


Neko Case

ANTI and Neko Case are donating $5 to Best Friends Animal Society for every blog that reposts Neko's new song, 'People Got A Lotta Nerve', from her forthcoming album Middle Cyclone (out March 3). The promotion runs until 3rd February. Download the song here.

Wed 21 Jan 2009

Posted under: Uncategorized


Congratulations my American friends…

...on the inauguration of Barack Obama! You are probably all very drunk by now, but congratulations on an amazingly, historic (but very cold looking!) day.

And on the Obama theme, people are already creating info graphics of his speech - I found this 'wordie' on Times Online, showing the words he used most during his inauguration speech.

Tue 20 Jan 2009

Posted under: Inspiration


The Little Library of Record Sleeves

Record Envelope: The Little Library of Record Sleeves is illustrator Kavel Rafferty's website for her fantastic collection of vintage 45rpm record sleeves.

All the sleeves are great designs, with bold, bright colours and are categorised into sections such as one & two colour print, animals, circles, typography and photographic.

Via Sell! Sell!
All images copyright Record Envelope.

Tue 20 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Typography , Inspiration

1 Comment

Reclaimed SALE sign

Wandering through Covent Garden last night I saw this SALE sign in a shop window. My camera phone pic doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

It was 4 reclaimed signage letters composed in and around a giant 'E' to read 'SALE'. After passing shop upon shop with sale signs in the window, it was refreshing to see one showing a bit originality.

From the reference box #30

It's been a while since I've delved into the reference box, but finally here we have #30, a Practical Householder freebie from the 50's (I think) - Cost & Quantity Guide for Paints and Wallpapers.

Not only is the cover great, but inside it has 2 movable paper charts/calculators. This lovely dial is to help calculate the number of wallpaper rolls, border rolls and ceiling rolls for the given room size...

... and this sliding chart helps estimate the cost and required amount of paint for the average room. The sliding card is printed on both sides giving ceiling and indoor woodwork guides on one side and wall, external wood and ironwork guides on the other.

The back page gives preparation instructions along with hints and tips for perfect decorating...

So there we have it, #30 - Practical Householder Cost & Quantity guide for Paints and Wallpapers

Have a look at previous Reference box exhibits here!

Wed 14 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Ephemera , Reference box


Saks Fifth Avenue hire Shepard Fairey!

Saks Fifth Avenue have hired Shepard Fairey and Studio Number One employee Cleon Peterson to design their Spring marketing campaign. In true Fairey style it has more than a touch of Constructivism about it and although the propaganda style ads have been seen many times before, I think it works.

It's bold, striking and straight to the point, the exact requirements of any marketing campaign and poster design. The image is strong and the style carries through well to the packaging.

How clever (and ballsy) of Saks to get Fairey on board after the success and free publicity generated by his recent Obama poster campaign and for putting their faith in what he could do for them. Terron E. Schaefer, the senior vice president for marketing at Saks told the NY Times, “What we do every day, really, is propaganda”.

I hope it's sucessful and encourages other companies to take a more inspiring marketing route and put themselves out there a bit more. If nothing else, it gets you noticed!

Images copyright Saks Fifth Avenue, from NY Times.
Via Notcot.

Mon 12 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Typography , Inspiration


More about Design

Adi Wickramaratne from the Design Council kindly emailed me on Friday regarding the Design magazine post to tell me where I could find more information and view some of the publications archives online.

Brighton University’s Art Faculty has a massive archive of Design’s old photos, magazines and promotional material. Some of that information is online here, but there are more scanned and uploaded images on the Visual Arts Data Service website. It’s quite hard to navigate but I found a few pages of images here, here and here which give a great insight into the Exhibition of Britain and the design industry 40/50 years ago.

I have to confess that finding the Design magazines was a reminder to me about the Design Council. I always knew who they where, but never really looked into what they do. But after my email from Adi and the information he gave me I went over to their website and had a good look around. It’s actually a great resource, packed full of articles, discussions, links, research and case studies to help designers of all disciplines. You can also read issues of the current Design Council Magazine, DCM, which is every bit as good as Design used to be.

So if you fancy some design-related reading while you’re having a coffee break, pop over there and have a look around yourself!

All images copyright the Design Council.
Big thanks to Adi Wickramaratne.

Mon 12 Jan 2009

Posted under: Design , Inspiration



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