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Beck’s London Underground Map and Some Musings on Design

October 16, 2007

Joan gave me the coolest thing the other weekend–a long sheet of Italian wrapping paper with the London Underground map on it.   I’m in love with that map for a million reasons, including the fabulous Johnston Underground font (a collaboration with Eric Gill, no less), the use of color, and the memory of my own spontaneous and solitary trip to London in October of 1992, the most adventurous, liberating, extraordinary experience of my life up till then.

But it’s up on my office wall right now as a reminder that any well-designed process or object can be transcendant.  The map is distinctive, accessible, functional–and ultimately beautiful.  It’s refined away all the detail that can be attended to elsewhere, and delivers only what can be used in context. 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. hels permalink
    October 17, 2007 9:33 am

    Here is the thing, I LOVE the London Underground. It is mythic in its extent and steeped in symbolism (okay so this is probably the chardonnay talking) … but seriously, it embodies something quite unique. What were you doing there in 1992 Melynda?

  2. melyndahuskey permalink*
    October 17, 2007 11:46 pm

    Ostensibly I was on a research trip (I started my professional life studying Victorian popular culture). Really and truly, I was about to conduct a mad love affair with Joan, and needed to clear my head by going somewhere far away all by myself. It was a week and a half of utter bliss, a considerable portion of which was spent on the Underground getting back and forth to the V&A, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, and best of all, Highgate Cemetery and Tothill Fields. Love the graveyards!

    Have you read *Neverwhere* by Neil Gaiman? The Underground is practically a character–terrific novel, too. I keep meaning to pick up *Un Lun Dun,* but then I think, “Oh, it can’t be all that great, and I just can’t afford another disappointment.” So I’m only re-reading books I already know I love right now.

  3. Jo Fothergill permalink
    October 19, 2007 4:30 pm

    “Really and truly, I was about to conduct a mad love affair with Joan, and needed to clear my head by going somewhere far away all by myself.”

    and obviously the trip did all the right things in your head since you and joan are still together …

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