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Bulletproof Design


This week saw the launch of a great exhibition at Londons design museum to mark the 50th anniversary of the British road sign system. Designed by Jock Kinneir and Mararet Calvert, it really is a minor miracle of simplicity. Not only must it be one of the most used and (often unconsciously) read designs ever, it is also timeless. The rigour that went into making it work also built it to last.

The exhibition features various creative luminaries ‘re-interpreting’ the signage system, with wit, affection and occasional social comment. Like the originals, the best are the ones that keep it simple. But for me, the best of all came from the original designer, Margaret Calvert. Hers was full of bullet holes, referencing the fact that youths with guns show off their accuracy by using the signs for target practice. Who knew she could be so gangsta?

Her sign looked brilliant, it was smart, and pretty cool to see her using an occasion celebrating her work to take pot shots at her own legacy. She rocks.

What more to say than this is the kind of design of substance that makes ‘style’ look so pedestrian by comparison.



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