A regeneration initiative in South London's Stockwell area identified street nameplates as being both neglected and unexceptional. Could street nameplates be improved and enhance the community?
When one of our Atelier partners was asked his opinion, he remembered his first job as a designer at the publishers Faber & Faber. Here, he often caught fleeting glimpses of the famous émigré designer Berthold Wolpe. As a book designer, head of the Faber & Faber design department, and creator of the typeface Albertus, Wolpe deployed his distinctive lettering at every opportunity. His beautiful typographic covers became inextricably linked to Faber & Faber and the great authors and poets of the twentieth century.
Here is Berthold standing outside the Faber & Faber offices and one of his 1,500 jacket designs for the publishing company.
Our partner knew that Berthold had been a Stockwell resident and that his widow still lived in the district. Atelier prepared revised designs using Berthold's Albertus typeface and we provided a supporting rationale that described the font Albertus as being 'uniquely indigenous' to Stockwell. Lambeth Council enjoyed our typographic tutorial and immediately adopted our proposals for a pilot roll-out across Stockwell.
When a new street nameplate was installed on Berthold's own road it seemed to us that this much-cherished typeface had finally come home.
It wasn't long before a bemused Council official was receiving telephone calls from other Lambeth residents, asking when they were going to get their new street nameplates. The Council then adopted the design borough-wide.
Postscript: our Atelier partner with the local knowledge also happens to be a Lambeth resident. He described himself as "pretty chuffed" on finding out that his own road was going to get a new nameplate. Although Berthold is sadly no longer with us, his beautiful font is now firmly in position and our partner still gets a fleeting glimpse of Berthold every day as he walks past the nameplate on his way to our studio.