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A design safari

June 17, 2012

Ever since finding out about the guy who designed our pelican crossings, a cutlery maker from Derbyshire, at the Design Museum, I’ve been interested in street furniture, so today was my week to get out on the streets and find out what other little gems of design the city has on its pavements and billboards.

First stop, colour!

I focused on the colour red, an accent colour I love for my house.  If you like designing with red, you might also like this web page which shows cool web designs using the colour.


The postbox is an example of great design because it has a strong hierarchy, and unity.  But it’s the two contrasting colours that really make the difference. Red draws attention to this box in the middle of a busy street, while the black adds formality and a sense of history.  The grand George VI logo and ‘post office’ recede because they are red, but the mouth of the box and the information, which are more important, are more prominent.

Another red object that I loved – with the same colour saturation – was this playground ride:


The red and blue are at different sides of the colour wheel, so they’re complementary. In terms of the shape, these quirky birds are discernible even though they are as roughly drawn as a child’s sketch.  The space for the beak and eye are gaps that the viewer uses to complete the whole picture.

Next stop, balance!

This blog post talks interestingly about how balanced we are as people, with symmetrical arms and legs.  That sense of things being ‘right’ is exactly how I feel when I see design with an organic balance.

I really appreciate the symmetry of this children’s swing: it looks safe….


Less symmetrical, but still balanced, are the benches in my local park:

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I love these iron benches.  The heavy rolled upper might look like it could fall backwards but it is grounded by the solid legs and latticework. There’s also a sense of unity to the piece, with the scrolling back and the faces on the edge of the arm rests.

Third stop, rhythm!

I found loads of examples of interesting rhythm on my way round the city….

This old church in the Old Market area has been converted into flats, but retains lots of interesting features.  For example, the bike racks here mirror the church windows setting up a natural repeating pattern.


This bridge over the river has a forward moving rhythm to it created by the zig zag shapes:


 Final stop, proportion!

These posters make strong use of the rule of thirds, dividing the information into the top and bottom thirds of the whole.  Each piece of information is in the same sized space as the next:


The College of Law in Victoria Street is an example of a strongly regular building, with thrusting sculptures outside giving a strong sense of organisation and achievement for its students. It’s an interesting example of how strong proportions can give a building a sense of sturdiness:


I added loads more examples into my Flickr stream and the Google doc for this assignment – if you have any feedback please feel free to share it wherever you like 🙂

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