Review: London Underground by Design, by Mark Ovenden
The London Underground has been in operation for 150 years; the world’s first urban subway, its opening was a great achievement in both design and architecture.
Mark Ovenden’s book is an in-depth exploration of the underground: part design study, part historical record.
For many people, the underground is a purely functional transport system that they use every day. It’s overcrowded, dirty and noisy.
But this book reveals how much more there is to it.
London Underground by Design begins with description and analysis of Victorian architecture, before moving through the eras, highlighting the significant design elements of each period alongside advances in technology. A fascinating history, the book is full of anecdotes, not only about the underground itself but the people who played a part in shaping it into the transport system we have today.
As well as examining the underground itself, the book also focuses on the unique graphic design elements that have been used in signage, logos, posters and maps. Numerous photographs and images flood the pages of the book; it includes maps, plans and signs, collections of posters and even examples of typography from the various historical periods.
This is certainly a fascinating book, one that is easy to dip in and out of – simply flick through and wait for something to catch your eye. Alternatively, it is a precise and thoroughly researched read that touches on all the significant aspects of the underground’s story.
Certainly one for history buffs, whether your passion is the underground, or London itself. This is also a fabulous book for anyone interested in design as it provides a complete record of the London Underground and its brand, its image, its character and its role in shaping London’s identity. It might even open your eyes to some of the details of the underground that you had never previously noticed or considered.
Please note: I received a free advance copy of this book as part of the Amazon Vine programme, however opinions are my own.