London Underground sign design: when good intentions get ignored – 23 November 2017

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About the event

Exploring sign design, brand conformity and sign maintenance

There’s a jarring effect when we spot a sign that doesn’t look quite right, especially in a vast network such as the London Underground. We ask ourselves: ‘why?’ and also ‘how did this happen?’

About our speakers

We are very proud to provide a platform for SDS members and guests to expand on this topic with our three special guest speakers: Mark OvendenTim Dunn and Ann Gavaghan.

Historian, author and broadcaster Mark Ovenden will give us an overview of the Underground’s graphics standards manuals and their corporate typeface Johnston. He’ll expand on possible reasons for off-brand signs.

Writer, broadcaster and public transport buff Tim Dunn will showcase off-brand Underground signs to illustrate the scale and kinds of problems that can be found on the Underground. He’ll present the point of view of travellers and typophiles alike.

London Underground’s Ann Gavaghan will discuss Underground signs from the perspective of staff who step into the breach when signs fail to help customers. We’ll also get a sneak peek of the Underground’s station presentation handbook!

For more information about our speakers and this event, please visit our event booking page.

Book today

Date: Thursday 23 November 2017

Time: 6pm for 6.30pm start

Venue: Pascall+Watson, The Warehouses, 10 Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6ER (nearest tube: Blackfriars)

Price: This event is free for SDS members. Tickets are £23.50 (plus booking fees) for non-members. All tickets include wine, soft drinks and snacks.

Book online: Please book your free or paid ticket online. We have limited tickets available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Please note: This event will be livestreamed and available to SDS members via our SDS Live Facebook account.

The SDS Seminar: Designing for an Ageing Population

LR Symbol testing

About the event

Designing for an Ageing Population

To meet the challenge of an ageing population, demand will increase for solutions that will enable us to lead independent and fulfilling lives as we get older. According to the UN World Population prospects, by 2050 there will be more over 65s than under 15s and the quickest growing age category will be the over 80s.  Across the developed world, strategies are being developed to address the future challenges this will bring to society. Prime amongst these is empowering and enabling people to continue to live independent and fulfilling lives well into old age.

Design has a huge role to play. From a wayfinding perspective not only do we need to consider issues around mobility and accessibility, but the less visible cognitive impairments such as Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, which bring about a different set of requirements.

October’s event will provide you with further insight and a greater understanding of how best to design wayfinding and signing solutions to better meet the needs of this growing segment. It will also provide you with some tools to assist you in delivering more inclusive solutions. Joining us to tell us about their work in this field will be Professor Andrea Tales (Chair in Neuropsychology & Dementia Research and College Dementia Research Lead, Swansea University) and Lucy Richards (Founder & Creative Director, StudioLR in Edinburgh).

About our speakers

Lucy Richards studied Visual Communication at Edinburgh College of Art and qualified with BAHons and Master of Design degree in 1990. In 2004 she founded StudioLR – a company committed to considering how design makes people feel. Their ambition is to cut through complexity and noise to connect with people and create experiences that improve everyday lives.

Professor Andrea Tales as well as being Chair in Neuropsychology & Dementia Research at Swansea University is also Director of the Dementia Research Group and Senior Editor of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Book today

Date: Thursday 26 October 2017

Time: 6pm for 6.30pm start

Venue: Pascall+Watson, The Warehouses, 10 Black Friars Lane, London EC4V 6EJ

Price: This talk is free for SDS members and £25 per ticket for non-members. We have a special offer for newcomers: if this is your first SDS event, you can pay a special ‘taster fee’ of £10 on the door. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register

Please note: This event will be livestreamed and available to SDS members via our SDS Live Facebook account, and our website.

The Big Debate: Architecture versus People

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About the event

In a departure from our usual format, September will see the first SDS Big Debate. With the help of a multidisciplinary panel we’ll be addressing the role of wayfinding consultancy within the built environment. We’ll be exploring whether it’s really needed, why it’s needed and perhaps touch upon what the future holds for those practicing the art.

Through the insights of our panellists and contributions from the audience we expect an evening that will challenge assumptions, perhaps be uncomfortable in places and also reassuring.  Whatever your discipline, at the end of the night you should come away with a deeper understanding and some new ideas to take back to your practice.

Billy Griffin, SDS Treasurer and Director of Artisan, will host this exciting new event. Whilst all our talks include speaker question and answers, this debate will be an opportunity for you to have your say. So sign up today, to secure your place in what should be a great evening.

NB. If you’ve got a burning question to put to the panel please pass details to Kirstine.

The panel members

The Big Debate panel will include:

Tony Baugh, Wood & Wood (Manufacturing)

Colette Jeffrey, Birmingham City University (Wayfinding Research)

Dr. Max Roberts, University of Essex (Human Psychology)

Mario Vieira, Scott Brownrigg (Architecture)

Ole E. Wattne, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Architecture and design (Graphic and Information Design)

Fran Raybould, FRA Creative (Branding and Placemaking)


Book today

Date: Wednesday 6 September 2017

Time: 6pm for 6.30pm start

Venue: The Gallery, Alan Baxter & Associates, 75 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EJ

Price: This talk is free for SDS members and £25 per ticket for non-members. We have a special offer for newcomers: if this is your first SDS event, you can pay a special ‘taster fee’ of £10 on the door. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register.

Please note: This event will be livestreamed and available to SDS members via our SDS Live Facebook account, and our website.

Placemaking TalkFest, Networking and SDS Summer Party – 13 July 2017

Using typography and graphics to create compelling destinations

For the SDS Summer Networking Event we’re pleased to host not one, but three speakers (so far!). They’ll be demonstrating the power of graphics, in all its forms, to create unforgettable experiences and unique destinations.


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Nicholas Plunkett Dillon and Juliane Klemp, CSM Live (formerly ICON)

Nicholas and Julianne will talk about their experiences in designing and implementing temporary wayfinding and signage systems for some of the world’s largest and most iconic sporting events. In particular, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where they were tasked with developing a comprehensive system across 12 stadiums to cater for teams, fans, staff, media, VIPs and hospitality.

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Andy Altman, Why Not Associates

Why Not Associates, in collaboration with artist Gordon Young, have been responsible for several site-specific permanent typographic installations. Andy will talk about their latest work ‘Trading Words’. Commissioned by St George for their London Dock development, Trading Words is a floor-based work that will eventually form a 300m long walkway. It was inspired by historic tariff-books which document the duties payable for a range of cargo including ale, pickles and more eclectic goods – ‘dragon’s blood’ and ‘bear’s grease’.

About our speakers

CSM Live (formerly ICON) is a recognised world leader in the delivery of branding and signage programmes for major international sporting events, including FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League Football, London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and British Open Golf, Formula E Motorsport and America’s Cup Sailing.

- Nicholas Plunkett Dillon started his career managing the staging of major international golf championships for the European Tour. From 1999 to 2015 he has been involved almost exclusively in the delivery of branding and signage programmes for major football tournaments. In 2002, he joined T.E.A.M. Marketing in Switzerland as Head of Production for UEFA Champions League and Project Director for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Branding & Signage programme. Since then Nicholas has worked for CSM Live (formerly ICON) directing its major international football branding and wayfinding projects, including the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, the 2012 UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.

- Juliane Klemp started working on football events in 2005 as Host City Manager for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands. Since joining CSM Live, she has project managed the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2012 UEFA Euro Championships. In 2013, Juliane moved to Brazil to work as General Manager for the 2014 FIFA World Cup before moving to Australia for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Juliane’s experience and skill in wayfinding has been utilised in other projects, most notably for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Why Not Associates is a multi-disciplinary design studio with a worldwide reputation. They believe that compelling communication demands an element of surprise.

- Andy Altmann is a graduate of the Royal College of Art. He formed Why Not Associates in 1987 with fellow graduates Howard Greenhalgh and David Ellis. In the 30 years since, Andy has worked on projects ranging from exhibition design to postage stamps via advertising, publishing, television titles, commercials, corporate identity and public art. Clients have included the Royal Academy of Arts, Channel 4, Grace Jones, the Pompidou Centre, the V&A, Nike, Paul Smith, Antony Gormley and Tate Modern. One common denominator throughout all these varied projects is a love of experimental typography.

Book today

Join us for our summer party: food, drink, excellent company and a range of experienced speakers!

Date: 13 July 2017

Time: 5.30pm for 6pm start

Venue: The Gallery, Alan Baxter, 75 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EL (nearest tube Farringdon)

Price: This talk is free for SDS members and £25 per ticket for non-members. 

Register: To book your free member’s place or to buy a ticket please email Kirstine: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Collaborate to innovate

DSC 9626Innovation is driving the heart of our future economies. As we push for greater innovation the need to collaborate across widely different specialisms has become a requirement to gain more and more innovative solutions. The question is HOW? How do we enable professionals who have long been separate, or even incompatible, and ask them to produce something new and innovate?

In this talk Wesley Meyer, designer at the inter-disciplinary firm Gensler, will share trends, personal insights and practical advice on HOW to enable collaboration for innovation. The talk will cover better understanding other designers (and stakeholders), unlocking the hidden value in your design process, dispelling some misconceptions about innovation and how to have more effective and collaborative meetings. There will be jokes too. We look forward to a lively Q&A.

The Adventures of a Type Tourist

BathCity01Type designer David Quay is fascinated by urban typography and how cities use typefaces to express their individual identities. Describing himself as a ‘Type Tourist’, David has visited and extensively photographed the type styles that characterise many cities across the world. He has recently started to share his knowledge and experience by offering type tours of cities.

Each city is unique typographically. The Johnston typeface, originally designed for the London Underground, is now used on street signage – effectively becoming the typeface DNA of London. Amsterdam has two DNA typefaces: the café lettering painted by signwriter Leo Beukeboom, and the cast metal letters (in the Amsterdam School type style designed by Anton Kurvers) used to label over a thousand bridges. Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and Valencia (with its ceramic tiles) all have their particular characteristic letterforms.

British Rail Corporate Identity Manual

British Rail Corporate Identity Manual

Feb17 Henning Hand medThe reproduction of the British Rail Manual has received considerable coverage over recent months. So the Sign Design Society is very pleased to welcome the man behind the project – Wallace Henning – to talk about this labour of love.

Leaves on the lines, the wrong kind of snow and stale sandwiches never really helped British Rail become a brand that was truly loved by the nation. Yet, in 2011 the readers of Creative Review voted British Rail’s ‘double arrow’ as their sixth favourite logo. In 2015, graphic designer Wallace Henning launched a Kickstarter project to fund a high spec reproduction of the original British Rail Manual. The Manual showcases and celebrates the British Rail corporate identity – not just its distinctive symbol but the full graphic design programme: from detailed specimens of the famous Rail Alphabet typeface, to the livery of the Inter-City 125.

Wayfinding for industrial estates and business parks

JDocksey2Spaces where vehicles and pedestrians interact and interchange is no more felt than at a busy and bustling industrial estate or business park.

In this talk, Jonathan Docksey from wayfinding agency Design JD will explore the different needs of pedestrians and vehicles on industrial estates. He will also explain how the agency engages with users to ensure success.

Over the last five years, Design JD have been working on industrial estate wayfinding solutions that ensure a smooth and safe experience for all concerned. Tackling these projects involves taking into account all aspects of the wayfinding journey: from pre-visit information, road signage, and pedestrian signage through to the interaction between people and road traffic.

Transit Map Extravaganza and SDS Summer Party

SDS would like to invite you to our special summer party featuring two illustrious speakers.

Purely Decorative: The Journey Map is the Reward

An exhibition by Maxwell J Roberts


The purpose of a map is to show the topography of the landscape so that it can be navigated effectively, but the skills of the cartographer can have a considerable aesthetic effect on the viewer too. How many maps, proudly displayed on the walls of houses worldwide, have ever been used as originally intended? Maps are not only beautiful, they can evoke strong memories, such of youthful exploration, or holidays to exotic destinations. The humble transit map fulfils these roles well, and creative designers often embellish their work with artistic flourishes, alternatively the stark simplicity of stripped down unornamented designs, with their nod to Bauhaus philosophy, have their own powerful aesthetic, as achieved by Beck and Vignelli.

Smart City Wayfinding in India

A Wayfinder’s Weekend in New Delhi and Wayfinding PhD research update

A two-part talk by Colette Jeffrey Birmingham University

"Cities have the capacity to provide for everyone only when they are created by everyone.”

What’s happening in India? How do people find their way, and what will the 100 Smart Cities do to help people find their way around? Colette Jeffrey was recently invited to speak about ‘smart city wayfinding’ at the international Smart Society: India Under Construction conference in New Delhi, India. She used her professional experience of city wayfinding gained from working at Applied Wayfinding, and also her research of human wayfinding behavior to explore what cities in India need to think about and she will share this thinking with the SDS.

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