Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Not often I post 'wordy' blogs, but this is going to be one. I've just finished writing the introduction and conclusion for my dissertation (although I still don't have a definitive title, eek!). I thought I'd post them up here so you can have some idea of what I've been tap tap tapping away on for the last few months.
And I'd like to confess it now, yes, I am a huge public transport nerd. I think the UK would be a much happier and more efficient place if the government would stop wasting money on pointless wars (another rant entirely) and put some of the money saved into public transport, so that everyone would ditch their cars and hop on a bus or train instead.
I know it'd never work because people like cars far too much, but we can all have our dreams :)
Anyway, here goes:

From the early 1900’s, the suburbs around the outskirts of London began to expand rapidly. While this growth slowed from the 1930’s onwards, there are still hundreds of thousands of people living within an hour of London’s city centre. People were lured to the suburbs by the promise of countryside living whilst still being able to access high paid jobs in the centre of London. Now, however, many people who work in London are forced to the suburbs because they cannot afford the high living costs in the heart of London. London Transport has played an important role in the growth and development of suburbia, especially through their innovative use of design to promote and persuade travel. I’m interested to consider just how their design could be such a strong persuasive tool, leading people to travel at different times of the day, visit new places, and even enticing people to actually relocate to a totally different area.

Now, as in the early part of the century, there are still many hundreds of thousands of commuters travelling in to the centre of London daily. So how has commuting changed in the last century? And how has London Transport’s use of design changed over the last century to assist the needs of commuters?
(above is one of my favourite poster designs. If I could afford it, I'd have bought it as a print! It's by the wonderful Edward McKnight Kauffer, from 1921.)

Whatever reason people choose to live in the suburbs, a majority of them still require access on a daily basis to the centre of London, and London Transport fulfils this need. But London Transport’s role is far greater than it may initially seem. In the early part of the century the train and transport companies played a huge role in encouraging the growth of the suburbs, and they did this through the use of forward thinking and innovative design. There was the creation and promotion of ‘Metro-Land’, and at the same time, the visionary poster campaigns of Frank Pick were stimulating travel to attractions on the outskirts that might otherwise have been overlooked. And this design was not limited to posters and print based media. All areas of design were important, from the design of the stations, to the famous underground map, nothing was too small to be considered and designed to promote and encourage travel.Commuting into London still continues to this day and looks unlikely to lessen any time soon. London Transport continues to use design as a way to assist, inform and generally make the experience of travelling easier and more efficient. In the early part of the century, London Transport was widely acknowledged as being one of the most forward thinking companies in terms of industrial design. While it may not still be so acknowledged, the company continues to push forward new campaigns and innovations in design.

No comments: