London Underground

Frank Pick and the London Underground – presentation

Video One

  • London tube map
  • adapt to change – picadilly was added on to the map later on
  • New addition made to the map
  • 80 underground systems
  • Diagonals, colour coding
  • Used by road, rail and air
  • Harry Beck created the map

Second Video

  • Pre-opening of the Siemens sponser poster Art 150 years
  • Exhibition of the London Underground posters over the past 150 years
  • Posters work well together each year
  • Character to underground
  • You can vote for your favourite

Third Video – history of the London Underground

  • Frank pick was responsible for design, artictechure ect..
  • Sliding doors make it easily to get on and off the trains
  • Expanded from London
  • ‘Metro Land’
  • Entertainment and shopping
  • They make profit by making posters for places around the area
  • By selling shops to promote the tube

What is it about the design that makes it successful?

  • The London Underground map was taken and used everywhere, the design was simple and easy to read which made it eye catching to the audience with bold colours that were easy to follow with straight lines. The logo was successful -the red circle makes it stand out and easy to read if walking past. The map could be applied to anything, even road and air which proved that the design was very adaptable.
  • The roundel – Underground logo – used bold and contrasting colours and the design had not been changed for a long time. The typeface was very clear and has been used at every station to show that they are all one business. I feel that the colours where very patrotic. The logo can also easily be resized to fit very big on the side of the station walls to extremely small on leaflets.
  • The typeface used for the names of each station were specifically made for the Underground itself by Calligrifer Edward Johnston, the typeface was designed around geormetric shapes with the O being a perfect circle. I also feel that the logo itself represented the tunnel and track of the underground in a visual way.
  • The colours used on the map are very easy to read and the map was well designed and artistic, I also feel that it looks as good as it can be and it would be hard to improve the design as it looks so modern.
      • Bakerloo tube – brown
      • Hampstead tube – grey
      • Piccadilly tube – yellow
      • Metropolitan District Railway – green
      • Central London Railway – blue
      • City and South London Railway – black
      • Great Northern and City Railway – orange
      • Metropolitan Railway – red
  • When looking at the whole design it is a very inspirational piece of information graphics and looks very timeless with a modern feel, maybe it would have been too modern at the time it was designed by Harry Beck.
  • Infulences of the London Underground map could have been the function of the Underground – for example the lines, tunnels and stations. The designs were very functional and also I feel very similar to the Bauhaus  and Swiss style with the clean, simple and minimal ideas and designs. As well as the colours, Form over function also came to mind when mentioning the Swiss Style  – this is what Frank Pick Believed
  • As you can see from going to the Underground now that there are a lot of posters advertising different places around London – this is to promote London as a shopping venue and tourist attraction which was aimed to get more people to use the Underground as a way of getting to each place. Frank Picks use of posters was revolutionary in design. This all started after the war in 1919. This was an opportunity for growth and redesign.
  • In the 1950s the Undergound was a very affordable way of getting around which made a lot of people become attracted to the idea – nowadays the tube can be quiet expensive but because of the popular intrest in the idea it is still used as often as before.
  • Freelance artists often designed the posters and were commissioned by Frank Pick. This was popular as it was a good opportunity for artists to get their work seen. This has also proved to have brought artists to the city and let their posters promote a range of events and venues in the same layouts near enough every time. As a result this made the designs recognizable and linked back to the underground.
  • A bit later on the logo was very recognizable and the simple shapes made it stand out, which was proved to have been successful as the logo was later on used on bus stations. The logo was designed to stand out at the stations but not to be over shadowed by other posters – it standardized the look of the underground branding.

After the discussion:

I like how the posters promoted the underground, how versitile the design was throughout the different stations, how the design has not changed and how the logo is recognizable by everyone which doesnt need to be advertised as much.


  • Harry Beck – designed the map
  • Frank Pick – managing manager
  • Edward Johnston – typeface and logo


  • Advertised London
  • Posters used to promote the underground
  • Versitile throughout different transport
  • Consistent design – helped promote tube


  • Has resulted in the underground being well known
  • Now influenced designers today
  • Swiss/Internation style, Bauhaus
  • Form Over Function

What happened at the time/When did it happen?

  • 1919 – post war – changed in design – opportunity for change
  • 1919 – logo
  • 1930 – map

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