We were asked, along with 49 other designers and artists, to create an homage to the great British road sign - to mark the 50th anniversary of the scheme, in an exhibition at London's Design Museum.
We had already come up with a different concept for the road signs, using the metaphor of animals.
So we turned our attention to the vexed issue of the pavement that runs alongside the roads. Does the pavement need signs to help protect pedestrians?
Roads and pavements share the public space. A pavement never ends, it links invisibly across a road, a fact only very rarely made physical by things like zebra crossings. In some, preciously rare, instances the powers that be continue street paving over a road to make the links literal.
Using surfaces to show drivers that part of the road is shared, with vulnerable pedestrians.
The fact that pedestrians have to share the invisible links escapes car drivers entirely. They see only the road. Blind to the invisible links. The road is all there is, their road. Which they want to drive on without impediment. As fast as possible.v
People driving want to drive. They don't want to slow down, least of all stop, for a second longer than is absolutely legally necessary. People climbing into a car, or swinging their leg over a bike, are possessed by the Spirit of Velocity from the Vorticist era, a Spirit that glories in speed, and the invulnerability of gleaming metal. Pedestrians are intruding.
The passion in what I write here is because I don't drive. I walk. I am a life-long pedestrian. All my time is spend on pavements and crossing roads, dodging cars, and increasingly cyclists.
Our first sign, to protect pedestrians: urging cars not to jump red lights, or put another way, urging cars not to put pedestrians at risk when it is their turn to use the shared space.
Cars regularly ignore the lights on Walworth Road.
The new threat
What happened with cyclists? There are a few, often on Boris bikes, wobbling about, new to the area, unsure of where to go, cycling at a gentle let-me-see-where-am-I kind of speed. But there is a new breed, I first encountered in Amsterdam. The hardened, hurtling, I-ain't-stopping cyclist, often on a racing cycle. This kind scream at pedestrians. I'd understand it if the screams came when pedestrians were dithering on the road in the way of cyclists who had right of way, but I have been screamed at crossing lights that were green for me, as cyclists whizzed through red lights, and, most alarmingly, walking on the pavement.
Speeding along a pavement on a steel vehicle.
Signs have gone up in Stockholm, warning pedestrians of a new threat, pedestrians using their smart phones whilst walking. A year or so ago, several accidents were reported caused by people so absorbed by playing Pokémon Go they stepped out into speeding traffic.
After we make the pavements safe by stopping cars jumping red lights, and encouraging cyclists to use only the roads, we have a new risk to mitigate: the zombie phone user.
We suggest signs placed low down, the only sliver of the phone-user's vision not filled by the phone screen.
Smart phones make us dumb - waking as if in a digital dreamworld.
Celebratory exhibition at London's Design Museum.
We have produced a series of design ruminations and thoughts on the fifty year-old British road sign system; possibly the most important graphic design project in the world. The posts are:
A reimagining of the signs in animal form.
Playing with what the signs can mean.
Our designs for a celebratory exhibition at the Design Museum.
Today sees the issue of our Windmill & Watermill stamps for the Royal Mail. It is the culmination of months of work and a fair bit of traveling around the UK by our commissioned photographer Phil Sayer. Here are some of his images that capture 'venerable' buildings nestling in the British landscape.
The design of the mills are a consequence of the prevailing weather and geological conditions; the sails of a windmill will not turn without a good supply of wind and a waterwheel will not turn without a steady flow of water. It is not surprising then that windmills are often landmarks on the local skyline while watermills can be found nestling high up in hilltop valleys where the water force is manageable. Our original thoughts for the stamps were to reflect the mills' natural relationship with the land.
William Morris was a founder of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). His 1877 manifesto called for the protection of ancient buildings so that they could be handed down "...instructive and venerable to those that come after us."
During our mill visits it began to seem like Morris' ideas were seeping into our work. As the project developed we really fell for the ingenuity of each mill; the architecture dictated by location, the harnessing of power dependent on nature, and the use of force cleverly diverted into some repetitive mechanised task.
This deceptively simple technology remains 'instructive and venerable' as Morris described it 140 years ago — and it becomes more prescient as we struggle to resolve the challenges of climate change.
See the stamps: Instructive & Venerable
We are proud to have designed a commemorative plaque for the Institute of Hepatology's new building. Affiliated with King's College London, the institute conducts independent research into liver diseases.
HRH the Duke of York, KG unveiled the plaque at a short opening ceremony.
The unusual 'lozenge' shape matches the doors. We specified toughened glass and used stainless steel fixings to 'float' the plaque in front of a pristine white wall. Our restrained design befits a centre equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories.
Elegant type in grey and gold was applied to the glass and this cast subtle shadows onto the wall.
CONFERENCE5RB 2016 is a special moment for Atelier Works. Ten years ago we named and branded 5RB's inaugural media law conference and to mark the occasion we designed a special anniversary logo.
The ever-expanding delegate list meant CONFERENCE5RB 2016 had to be moved to accommodate its largest ever audience. Atelier were closely involved in the months leading up to the event — and necessarily so. When the big day arrived we had just two hours to dress the whole venue and upload digital wayfinding and screen presentations for a multi-theatre IT system. Everything had to be in place, tested, and operational before delegates started to arrive for registration at 8.30am.
Previous conferences set escalating expectations, so no detail was overlooked in making sure every delegate had the right information to hand. What they read, collected, enjoyed and took away with them was unmistakably branded 5RB.
Post-conference survey feedback included 'very polished', 'fantastic materials', 'executed with real class', 'extremely impressive and much the best conference yet'.
A decade on from first conference and 5RB's original objective to stage THE premier event in the media law calendar has been realised; survey feedback this year also included 'If you are only going to attend one media law conference, this is the one to attend.'
Related projects: Branding 5RB , CONFERENCE5RB
My family, the Newarks, has a historian. Michael from Ontario. He gathers information from the world over, about the various branches, where they have settled, and prominent individuals.
Recently he unearthed the story of two of my antecedents. Both, as it happens, ran shops near where my design studio is now. I had a photo taken to match their's.
Charles William Newark
Taken in the early 1900's, the photo on the right shows Charles William Newark, a window blind manufacturer, standing in the entrance to his shop and home at 46 Milkwood Road, Herne Hill. It appears from the picture that the family probably lived on the second and third floors above the shop.
The photo also shows a tall Charles Edward Percival Newark standing beside his father Charles. Percival, who saw active army service in France during the first World War, died on the 8 November 1918 of influenza while on leave at home.
Besides blindmaking, Charles also fabricated stage scenery and made props for Fred Karno's vaudeville show. Fred Karno's headquarters were on Coldharbour Lane in Camberwell, just up the street from Charles' business at 46 Milkwood Road, Herne Hill.
Wikipedia has this to say about Fred Karno: "During the 1890s, in order to circumvent stage censorship, Karno developed a form of sketch comedy without dialogue... American film producer Hal Roach stated: "Fred Karno is not only a genius, he is the man who originated slapstick comedy. We in Hollywood owe much to him." ... Among the music hall comedians who worked for him were Charlie Chaplin and his understudy, Arthur Jefferson, who later adopted the name of Stan Laurel. These were part of what was known as "Fred Karno's Army", a phrase still occasionally used in the UK to refer to a chaotic group or organisation."
Around the late 1890s, Charles seems to have employed Charlie Chaplin, who was young and struggling to make the stage a career. (Not sure what evidence Michael has for this...)
It is believed that Charles also made the first safety curtain for the London Palladium, and was also involved with the fabrication of the apparatus used in the 1904 production of Peter Pan, to make Peter "fly", a sensation at the time.
Charles was one of the most successful in a family tradition of window blind makers. His father John Newark founded the business at 28 Newington Butts before 1865 and the trade carried on through three generations until dying out in the 1930s. (Newington Butts is about 4 minutes walk from where I am sitting now.)
All of John's five sons, including Charles, entered the trade.
As a young man of 17, Charles left home to work as a window blind maker and painter with his older brother Frederick who ran a blind making business in Tottenham. It isn't known when Charles started his own business at Herne Hill. He died during World War I from injuries suffered in an air raid and was interred in the family plot at Lambeth Cemetery, Tooting. (I will soon be visiting this plot!!!) Also in the plot are his wife Amy Isabella (née Cock), sons Percival, William and Robert.
Albert Victor Newark
Brother of Charles, born in 1873 above the shop, Albert eventually went into the same business opening his own shop - A. V. Newark Carpenter & Blind Maker - in the Walworth Road.
He was married in 1891 at the Emmanuel Church in Camberwell Road (demolished in 1968). Albert was a member of the 4TH Volunteer Battalion East Surrey Regiment from 1890. In 1900 he Volunteered for the Imperial Yeomanry and served in South Africa during the Boer War 1899-1902. He was hospitalized with dysentery twice.
On his return to England he resumed his business and was photographed outside his Walworth Road shop in 1911. Business must have been good, since at least 1901 Albert his wife and family had been living at 98 Brixton Road, in a substantial three story building that is now a listed. (And tragically not still owned by a Newark.)
Upon retirement in the 1940's Victor moved to Clapham Common and eventually Tooting where he died in 1965 aged 92. (Four years after I was born.)
dressed in fustian