There’s nothing like an imminent Olympics to get the world talking about logos (did you know that Sochi’s rather chilling mark is the first to lack drawn elements?). Anne Quito looks across the pond at a classic.
The city of London teems with icons—from Big Ben, to the red double-decker bus, even to polarizing 2012 Olympics logo, or lately, the much parodied “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters. There is no shortage of visual symbols for the city. But perhaps the most ubiquitous among them is their transport logo, or the roundel, as it’s officially called. Introduced in 1908, the original circle-and-bar design has remained mostly unchanged, surviving the tides of brand makeovers for over a century.
A Logo for London (Laurence King, 2013) explores the evolution of the symbol vis-à-vis the socio-political climate of the city it represents, written as a kind of biography for this enduring brand mark. Packed with a treasury of archival images and drawings, this well-researched volume by the design historian David Lawrence casts the roundel as trademark that evolves to become a cultural marker and a civic symbol.