All Aboard the Design Bus

In March last year, having just given a lecture to an audience in Katowice in Poland, London-based designer Anne Odling-Smee was presented with a proposal

How would she like to bring together a group of designers to propose a range of artwork to wrap the outside of buses and trams that would then run in some of Poland’s major cities?

Odling-Smee duly accepted the challenge (from Polish ad agency manager Ryzsard Lenc) and started the project together with him and the lecture’s organiser Ewa Satalecka, in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice and the Silesian Castle of Art and Enterprise. “I was interested in the idea of using the context of advertising space for a purely creative and non-profit driven exercise,” says Odling-Smee, “ie   one that had nothing to do with advertising. The idea of a project without a client, where we could create our own content, was very appealing and something I am always looking out for, partly because it’s an important way of maintaining a freshness in my professional work.”

Originally the team had hoped that the designs submitted as part of the Mobile Design Gallery project would encounter few restrictions, but it transpired that some concepts wouldn’t make it through for practical reasons – too much white background would get dirty during the Polish winters, for example. Six of the designs submitted finally made it onto the buses and trams, which were unveiled recently in Poland. An accompanying exhibition about the whole project has just opened at the Silesian Castle.

Those who finally saw their work appear on Polish public transport include Adam Brown with his type-driven “Climate Change, take the tram/bus” offering; Clarence Lee and his Swirly design; Christian Altmann and his Transport Zebras; Odling-Smee’s own City Buttons pattern; John Morgan’s Dazzle Bus chequered design and Ken Kawamoto’s illustrated Daisy Bus.

An exhibition on the project has just launched at the Silesian Castle of Art and Enterprise in Cieszyn. More information is available at




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