Founded in 2007 by Mia Frostner and Robert Sollis, Europa is a graphic design studio predominantly working within a community-based practice as well as running the second year of the BA Graphic Design course at Camberwell College of Arts. Its diverse design output encompasses various print outcomes from art direction to website design, mainly operating in the public and cultural sector. The studio’s work is often directed towards the importance of education encompassing a research-heavy practice informing thoughtful projects. An example of which is Station Road, a community-led signage project commissioned by Harrow council, taking place in Harrow’s busy thoroughfare called Station Road.
The project involves looking at how public spaces work for the community, attempting to improve them for the benefit of the locals and flowing traffic. Led by architect, Mark Smith, Station Road became a project about spatial-awareness, exploring how to optimise community spaces for local businesses, customers and residents. Speaking to It’s Nice That, Europa founder Mia explains how “it soon became clear that the first step involved pedestrianising the parades” for more surface area for people to move around. “The standard way to do this would have been to use paving slabs throughout the thoroughfare, however, as the project budget was very limited, this would have left little money for trees, furniture and anything else that could have contributed to the wholesomeness of the space”. Resultantly, the designers and architects problem solved this issue by taking a more cost effective approach and “blocked off the parades, levelling them out with asphalt to improve accessibility”.
“Another issue that arose, involved the confused addresses of businesses on Station Road as many of the addresses relate to the name of the parade, however there was a major lack of signage to identify these parades”, says Mia. Using the language and techniques of the road markings, Europa designed much-needed parade signs on the asphalt, incorporating vibrant, yellow lines that flow with the curvature of the road and act as a contrast to the black asphalt surface. The bold and circular typography made up of double yellow lines and characterful serifs immediately draws attention to the eye from passing pedestrians, encouraging playfulness and experimentation in the communal space.
Station Road is an example of how imaginative thinking within the confines of financial and spatial limitations can develop into an original yet simple design outcome. Through considering the functionality and community-aspect of the space, the design maximises the public’s experience of the parade as well as offering memorable signage to the local businesses.
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