Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Design Icon 001
The London Underground Map
This brilliant icon started life as an unsolicited design sent in by draughtsman Henry Beck in 1933. British rail trialled it & asked for customer comments, the result was a resounding success so the map was adopted.
The central portion of the map was enlarged to show the complex interchanges between lines more clearly in proportion to outlying area's. Meandering geographic lines were drawn on a grid of horizontal, vertical & 45 degree angles. This made the whole network easy to follow at a glance, especially when individual networks were identified by bright bold colours.When preparing the original camera ready drawing, Beck hand lettered over 2400 characters in Railway typeset !
For me it is a classic example of great design, an icon that everyone recognises & can understand. I have a laminated copy from my last journey on the underground in August 1997 which sits sometimes on my studio notice board.