Frank Pick and the London Underground

For this week’s discussions, we discussed Frank Pick and the London Underground Design and promotion. Frank Pick, who was born on 23rd November 1978, was a British transport administrator and was responsible for the London Underground designs, where he hired Edward Johnston to create the actual design for the Underground, and Harry Beck to design the map. Becks maps where in fact used as inspiration around the world for many different maps such as planes, trains and road maps, mainly due to the fact it was so simple and easy to read and follow. After the first world war in 1919 the designs where all re-designed, to mark a change and a new beginning, but since then, they have stayed the same and are still used today. The underground started to advertise different events located in London city, this was mainly so that a lot more people would use the underground to get the events easier. Edward Johnston, when he came to designing the logo, decided to replace the solid red circle for a white circle making it much more modern. Frank Pick promoted the underground with lots of various posters so people would start to use the underground a lot more.

For the discussion this week, we discussed what it was about the design of the underground that made it so successful.

As a group we stated that the designs where so successful as they were bright, bold and eye catching, and also, the colours used in the stations making it easy to read and follow. We discussed how the logo used bright contrasting colours that would make it recognisable from a distance and make it clear where about the undergrounds where located, and making it easy to spot from a distance. We also talked about how the logo was very versatile and could be easily resized and placed in different places mainly due to the simple shapes and colours. In the logo we discussed the typeface and why the designer used this specific typeface, we discovered that the typeface in the underground design was actually created by Calligrapher, Edward Johnston and it was an exclusive typeface. The letter ‘O’ in the actual font is a perfect circle and we discussed that this could be down to geometric shapes of the designs.

As well as the logo, we discussed the map and why it was so influential to many other different countries and map designers. And we came to the conclusion that it was all down to the simplicity of it and the basic coloured lines that made it so easy to follow. we all felt that the map has possibly stayed the same for so many years as it is so simple and easy to read that it doesn’t need any improvement, and is thought as, as one of the best pieces of information graphics in the world. We started to discuss what influences the designers could have been influenced by, and we came to the conclusion that they were possibly influenced by Bauhaus and Swiss Typography, mainly due to the bold colours and basic shapes used.

We started talking about the underground posters and discussed why they were so successful. Mainly because the underground was affordable and easily accessible for people, but also the fact that the underground promoted other events that would encourage people to use the underground. We found out that Frank Pick had a variety of different artists to design the posters for him, which was very effective back then as it promoted the artist’s work as well as the underground. The designs of the posters where all very relevant to the designs of the maps, so that the underground designs where consistent and also recognisable.

As a group we shared at the end of the discussion what we had learnt and what we found helpful from the discussion. I stated that I was impressed with how the design of the underground where so simple and effective that throughout the years nothing has had to be altered or improved to make it better because it is good enough as it is.

this is a slide show i created, that contains posters from the time the London Underground was first created. These posters where enforced by Frank Pick where he got someone to design and create them. i feel that these designs are very creative as they are very similar to the posters that where around during WW2, but i feel this could have been because they where around the same era and the design back then could have been very similar to this. I feel in a way these designs had a hint of Propaganda to them as they where trying to convince people that taking the underground was the best way to get around london, and it would be harder to see things with out taking it. but i feel they were still very successful and creative and got the message across well.

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Overall i feel the London Underground has been one of the most successful designs in history, as it has had such a massive effect on other designers. I really like the way that the London Underground maps have were so well designers that other designers started to use this style to create other maps for different forms of traveling as it was so simple and easy to read. I also like how simple and effective the logo is as, despite it being very basic, it is a logo that is well recognizable and easily seen from a distance, which is a very important thing for the designer to bare in mind. I feel that the London Underground designs have been very successful over the years and have really changed the way people design information graphics nowadays.


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