By Belinda Morris
London in Fifty Design Icons
By Deyan Sudjic and The Design Museum
(£12.99, Octopus Publishing Group)
If you think you know London, its landmarks, its idiosyncrasies, its character, then this neat little tome could prove to be a bit of an eye-opener. The first in a new series – that looks at major cities around the world – it selects 50 familiar (and maybe, to some, not-so-familiar) design icons that together sum up the spirit of the UK’s capital.
And it’s not just buildings and monuments that author Deyan Sudjic, director of The Design Museum has singled our. He also highlights such design masterpieces as the Routemaster Bus, Time Out’s masthead designed by Pearce Marchbank, the Tube map and that zebra crossing on Abbey Road. Battersea Power Station is analysed, as is a Bansky mural, the typical London pub and Paul Smith’s Westbourne House shop-cum-gallery.
I really enjoyed this visual history book – wondering what was coming next with each page turned and learning just enough about each entry to feel that little better informed. I can only imagine how hard Sudjic found it to edit down his list – London is stuffed with potential design gems. Beginning with the dome of St Paul’s – the key focus of the London skyline – he looks at all expressions of the city’s essence, ending with the skyline itself, pointing out that the speed and ruthlessness with which clusters of towers have erupted makes London the closest thing Europe has to Shanghai. Now there’s an interesting thought…