Designers like a bit of map. City transport maps, especially, are the ultimate in graphic communication, presenting information used every day by legions of travellers. Transport maps become so familiar to a city’s commuters that proposed changes are often rebelled against. In 2007, Madrid’s residents were outraged when their city was ’redrawn’ in a new, simplified version of their metro map, while last year, Transport for London had to bow to the public outcry that followed its decision to take the Thames off Harry Beck’s iconic Tube map.
But messing about with familiar city maps is what Zero Per Zero has done with relish. The South Korean graphic design duo is reinterpreting cities’ railway maps in an ongoing series of designs. In its first exhibition in the UK, at the Kemistry Gallery, Zero Per Zero is presenting new versions of the City Railway System series, in LED display panels, hand-drawn maps, paintings and acrylic pieces.
The work aims to project a city’s identity on to its transport map, while retaining the orderly graphic of the original. They give a nod to Milton Glaser’s ’I love New York’ heart logo or Hokkaido’s abundant snowfall, for example.
In the exhibition, the maps are accompanied by work created alongside City Railway System, which continues the studio’s exploration of movement within the urban environment.
Kim Ji-hwan and Jin Sol, founders of Zero Per Zero, want to ’make the world an exciting, new and happy place with our designs’. A pretty ambitious sentiment for information graphics but, then again, we all love a bit of map.
Zero Per Zero: Station at the Kemistry Gallery, 43 Charlotte Road, London EC2 from 30 April to 19 June