London: Signs and Signifiers


By coincidence, two of the projects I was working on in the summer are released this week. First up is London: Signs and Signifiers, a collection of Nico Hogg’s photographs of the streets and architecture of London’s East End. I’ve mentioned Nico’s photography before as his pictures have been used on several of the albums and singles I’ve designed for Keysound Recordings, some of which are featured in the book. This is being published as part of the Keysound catalogue, with a launch event taking place today (the 8th) at the Doomed Gallery, London. See this post for details, and a link to download a free chapter.


Nico’s work is notable for the way it avoids the stereotype of the style of urban photography that presents deprived or run-down areas in grim monochrome. Nico doesn’t avoid the decay—there are shots of burned-out flat-blocks, and a chapter devoted to the recent Tottenham riots—but the colour in his pictures shows a different side to these areas of the city.


My design for the book follows the minimal approach I’ve used on the Keysound albums, organising the information clearly and giving the photos as much room as possible. The font used for the titles and chapter headings is Transport, the typeface designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert used on roads signs throughout the UK.


Continue reading “London: Signs and Signifiers”

Compass Road by Iain Sinclair


I was hoping to get my delayed 2011 calendar launched today but other work needed completing so here’s an interim post.

Think of your journey through mortality as a sequence of valid movies and the pain is ameliorated. Forget the tedious 60-minute division of the lecture hall or dead television (quartered by adverts): arrange just enough markers for the 90-minute slots of Golden Age cinema. And then it’s only a question of nominating the eight guides, culture-figures who will dominate your thoughts (and reveries) for as long as you stay upright. The road is endless, you aren’t. Iain Sinclair

There may be a recession on but people still keep putting out the luxury goods; maybe the bankers are buying all this stuff with their unwarranted bonuses. Compass Road is a limited edition wristwatch from Mr Jones Watches, London, and sports a design commissioned from writer Iain Sinclair, a somewhat surprising choice given that these things are more usually farmed out to those individuals we have to call celebrities. Sinclair is too intelligent and interesting to be a mere celebrity and consequently designs a watch I’d probably buy if I had an excessive income. The watch middle and the hands are based on the British road signs designed by Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir while the typeface used for the compass points is Calvert and Kinneir’s Transport (below) which is also used across Britain’s road signs. For the destinations Sinclair has chosen eight writers with London associations: John Clare, Gerald Kersh, Bram Stoker, Joseph Conrad, William Blake, HG Wells, JG Ballard and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. The last seems an odd choice but he did work in London for a while.


Sinclair’s design is a flexible enough to be applied to other literary cities which raises the question of which names you’d choose for Paris, say, or New York. And which signage systems? Subways or the local roads? Compass Road meanwhile can be yours for £145.