Category Archives: Places

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.


Design and Music

The Peter Saville Show was held between 23 May and 14 September 2003 at the Design Museum in London. It traced the career of the graphic design legend who created artwork for Factory Records, including record sleeves for, among others, New Order.
It was therefore natural that the latter composed the score.

The Peter Saville Show Soundtrack is an atypical, 30-minute atmospheric and instrumental piece of music which has little to do with any material released by the band before or after that.

If the usual New Order line-up was not complete, Peter Hook’s basslines are easily recognisable, alongside drummer/keyboard player Stephen Morris and guitarist Phil
Cunningham, who had just joined the band as a touring musician.

I was not lucky enough to see the exhibition at the time or get the soundtrack, but I ordered one of the 3,000 CD-only copies from a website selling rare vinyl records and CDs.

The Peter Saville Show CD
As you can read on the disc, it was designed, as well as the show in itself, by the
London-based graphic design agency Graphic Thought Facility.

Front sleeve:

The Peter Saville Show CD front

Back sleeve:

The Peter Saville Show CD back

Apparently there was no official exhibition catalogue, but the book Designed by Peter
was published by Frieze when the exhibition opened.