Category Archives: Books

Record Covers | 01

The Durutti Column | Obey the Time | 1990

In the age of dematerialisation, and as strange as it may seem to the ‘digital native’ generation, there was a time when music meant records (yes, records, vinyl or CDs) which came along with genuine cover artwork.

The pioneering work of design consultancy 8vo and their use of typography had an influence on graphic design throughout the late 1980s and the early 1990s. One illustrative example is the artwork for The Durutti Column‘s ‘Obey the Time’ (Factory records catalogue FAC 274), released in 1990. Though musically probably not their best album, it was graphically innovative, with 8vo’s trademark use of negative letter-spacing.



Their approach to typography and their work in general are detailed in a book published in 2006, ‘On the outside.’


The London Tube and Its Graphic Legacy


Harry Beck’s Tube map, Edward Johnston’s typeface and the roundel symbol embrace the identity of London. They are landmarks in the history of graphic design, and the envy of many cities or public transport authorities.

Every aspect of TfL’s branding elements, from their use of typefaces, logos, down to stationery or even their corporate design standards themselves, is highly inspirational.

More broadly, the London Underground has a special feel about it, both familiar and exotic, modern and old-fashioned. It has been the subject of many books, some of which were published for the 150th anniversary of the Tube in 2013.


Here is a selection of books I liked, dealing with the history of the tube, design or trivia.

London Underground By Design
By Mark Ovenden
Publisher: Penguin

The Roundel: 100 Artists Remake a London Icon
By Tamsin Dillon, Claire Dobbin, Jonathan Glancey & Sally Shaw
Publisher: Art/Books

London Underground — Architecture, Design and History
By David Long
Publisher: The History Press

Underground — How The Tube Shaped London
By David Bownes, Oliver Green and Sam Mullins
Publisher: Allen Lane

The Story of London’s Underground
By John R. Day & John Reed
Capital Transport Publishing

The Little Book of the London Underground
By David Long
Publisher: The History Press.


Ridiculous Design Rules

design books

A few years ago I came across small books with an elegant layout, which I believe any graphic design enthusiast willing to escape the dogmas of the industry should read: Never Use More Than Two Different Typefaces and Never Use White Type on a Black Background.

As their title indicates, these books dissect some design rules with a tongue-in-cheek tone. They are published by BIS Publishers, a Dutch independent publishing house based in Amsterdam and specialised in creative arts.