The London Underground map is often held up as one of the pinnacles of beautiful, accessible, urban graphic design but spare a thought for the Tube’s other ubiquitous visual symbol, the Roundel (the blue line bisecting the red circle to you and me). Long has it been overshadowed by its mappy cousin but maybe no more as a new book has challenged 100 artists to re-imagine the Roundel.
Originally created by calligrapher Edward Johnston and transport manager Frank Pick in 1908 to make station names stand out amid all the adverts on display, the Roundel has endured as an instantly recognisable London landmark. Spotting its neon throes offers blessed relief to weary punters trying to find their way home after an evening in an unfamiliar part of the city and while the new interpretations may not be quite ready to replace their famous starting point, the results are tremendously interesting.
Featuring the likes of Sir Peter Blake, Ryan Gander, Jeremy Deller, Gavin Turk, Susan Hillier and Richard Wentworth, the book is a respectful celebration of a design icon, full of imaginative reworkings of the symbol which has had an impact on transport systems from Shanghai to Salt Lake City.
The Roundel: 100 Artists Remake a London Icon published by Art on the Underground and Art / Books is launched next month.
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