'Designology' at the London Transport Museum

Sunday 22 May 2016

If you take a look at my Instagram, you'll see that I've been taking part in the 100 Day Project. I really struggled to decide what to focus on, and it's been a long time since I committed to a creative project which involved posting every day (I managed the 365 project a few years ago, but I had a bit more time on my hands!) In the end, I landed on something which wasn't all that snappy or cool, but I felt had a lot of potential: public transport. Living in cities, most of us spend a good portion of our weeks sitting on a train, bus, tube or tram - and it's an experience which would be completely different without design. I also feel it's somewhat of an overlooked source of everyday beauty. So, for the last month or so (and for the next sixty plus days) I can be found awkwardly snapping away on train platforms and photographing bus seats.

Enter: the London Transport Museum. Despite being a massive fan of some of the infamous bits of design associated with London's transport system (like the original Routemaster buses and Heatherwick's updated hybrids), I'd never managed to make it to the Covent Garden museum. I'd been to the Acton Depot Open Weekend and loved it, so when Tasha asked if I'd like to come along to the preview of the LTM's latest exhibition, Designology, I jumped at the chance. The two of us also popped along to the exhibition launch on Friday to have another wander around - and a cocktail!

Designology charts the many different aspects of design encapsulated within London Transport - and there's so much more to it than you might think. A lot of the designs we use everyday are almost meant to be invisible: if you're noticing the ticket barrier, it's usually because you're struggling to get through it! However, our lives and commutes would be infinitely more boring and difficult without the designers which work across the system. Highlights from the exhibition for me were lots of the paper based media - tickets, maps, timetables - and the art we see everyday on the underground, such as the amazing woodcut designs for Charing Cross tube station. I also really loved seeing the design process behind the seat patterns (did you know there are London landmarks hidden in the design on the Central line?) and the designs which never quite made it to life. Top for me, though, is the Johnston typeface used across the transport system, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year!

FIND 'DESIGNOLOGY' AT: The London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London, WC2E 7BB

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