One of the most loaded questions any Londoner can ask another is the seemingly innnocent, “So, where do you live?”. In a city as property obsessed as London, divulging your address reveals far more than your post-code. In London, you are where you live.
Peter Dawson, of design studio Grade, recognises as much in his response (above) to a brief from the International Society of Typographic Designers. Dawson was one of 18 designers invited to take part in the ISTD’s My London/My City exhibition.
The idea of the show, which ran as part of the 2006 London Design Festival, was to celebrate and explore the place of typography in contemporary visual city culture.
Dawson’s response was to chart all the house numbers and post codes that he has lived at since 1969 on a poster. Other pieces include:
The Clapham Clock (below): a metre square laser-cut clock documenting eight hours in the life of south London suburb, Clapham, by johnson banks. The numbers on the clock face are made up from the logos of brands favoured by the groups of people to be found in the suburb at that particular time of day – so, 11 am, when “the drunks get their first drink” and the first ambulance of the day arrives, is made up of logos for cheap booze such as Night Train express and Thunderbird.
Freda Sack of The Foundry (and, in her ISTD capacity, one of the exhibition’s organisers) presented a series of photographs of type in situ (one below).
While Jonathan Ellery of Browns produced this block of Portland Stone (below), featuring sandblasted type on the front and back. Ellery explains: “A lot of central London was originally made from Portland Stone. It’s a symbol of my relationship with London, deliberately ambiguous and very heavy.”
The show also featured a typical piece from the late, great Alan Fletcher in which he spelled out the name of his favourite part of Londdon using letters found on discarded packaging at the market (below).
The ISTD now plan to take the show abroad, repeating the concept to create My Edinburgh, My Belfast, My Amsterdam, My Johannesburg, My Beirut and My Barcelona: in fact, to every city where ISTD has a typographic community.
My London/My City was a creative collaboration between the International
Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD) and City Inn Westminster. The catalogue (designed by Grade, cover shown below) will shortly be available to buy from the ISTD website.