If a student pinches a traffic cone it’s considered a bit lame. But the Anya Hindmarch ‘road-sign’ designs have justly gained a large share of the press coverage from London Fashion Week over the past few days. Following on from her cereal box inspired and kids sticker inspired shows; they manage to be cheerful and cool at the same time. No mean feat. That they are generally considered ‘witty’ by the fashion press makes them I guess quintessentially British into the bargain.
You might call this a good example of ‘stealing with pride’. Actually, I don’t see it as stealing – good designers are also good magpies, but the best take the source material, abstract and recontextualise it and get us to see familiar things with fresh eyes. There are a other few transport-derived designs opposite. I particularly love Margaret Calvert’s self-portrait, based on her original design for the ‘men at work’ sign.
But here’s what I really love: Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert began designing the British road sign system in the late fifties. While it is now so familiar that we hardly notice it, it has stood the test of time, transcended fashion and yet still has elements that can look pretty funky on a 2015 catwalk. Not bad for something originally designed with pure functionality in mind.