Ten UK designers and studios have created limited edition Oyster Card holders to celebrate this year’s London Design Festival and the Underground’s 150th birthday.
Pearson Lloyd (design below), Kate Moross (above), James Joyce, Andreas Neophytou, Noma Bar, Krstjana S Williams and design studio MinaLima are among those commissioned by the organisers of LDF exhibition designjunction and Transport for London.
The card holders will go on sale in September and reference key elements of the tube’s visual identity, from the infamous Underground roundel to Harry Becks’ topographical tube map and Edward Johnston’s iconic typeface.
Krstjana S Williams’ design (below) is inspired by a 1909 London Underground Map, juxtaposed with her signature Victorian engravings and illustrations. “The process of creating an illustration for Transport for London, such an intrinsic part of the city’s culture and heritage was so special and a fantastic opportunity,” she says.
MinaLima’s card holder (below) was inspired by Beck’s 1931 tube map, which the studio’s founders Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina (graphic designers for the Harry Potter films) say is an example of how “accomplished design can be both beautiful and communicative.”
Other features of the Underground which inspired this year’s designers include the brick wall tiles which decorate each station and the fabric used on TfL seating.
“The underground platforms and corridors are full of beautiful and interesting tile designs dating back to its beginnings. It’s a tradition that’s carried on since the tube system was built and I think it’s a real iconic architectural feature throughout the London Underground,” says James Joyce, who has combined a tile pattern with the colours of each TfL train line (below).
“Durable, and great at concealing stains, the complex patterns of the colour coded moquettes that furnish our trains and buses have long been the background of our daily commuting, and are firmly embedded in the psyche of Londoners. These textiles are not only the material fabric of the TfL identity but also design icons of public transportation, still representing the optimism of a time when traditional crafts transitioned into the Machine Age,” says Andreas Neophytou of his typographic design (below).
London-based, Israeli-born designer Noma Bar has also referenced a well-known (but less well-loved) feature of the underground: mice. “When I received the brief I immediately thought of mice hidden underneath the underground. I wanted to create a design with a narrative that would celebrate the forgotten areas of the underground, and for the audience to look at the iconic logo in a different light and discover a new story within it,” he says.
As well as paying homage to London’s transport system and promoting the festival, this year’s LDF card holders are another indication of the organisers’ aim to better represent London’s graphics scene. Now in its tenth year, the festival has traditionally focussed on three dimensional design but is running a Graphics Weekend, an exhibition showcasing the Typographic Circle’s Circular magazine and illustration, letterpress and type events.
The holders will be on sale at designjunction, TfL’s online shop and the London Transport Museum Shop priced at £6.99 each or £55 for a set of 10.
This year’s London Design Festival takes place from September 14-22. For more information, visit londondesignfestival.com. Designjunction runs from September 18 to 22 at the Sorting Office, 21-31 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1BA. For opening times and further info visit thedesignjunction.co.uk
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