Searching for London’s transport design icon

Transport for London and London Transport Museum will be asking the public to identify their favourite London transport design icon so this week we thought we’d ask designers to choose their favourites – brass step edges, moquette fabrics, “Mind the Gap”…


“Transport for London is one of the most iconic public transport systems in the world with an incredible legacy and a present dedication to push the boundaries of transport design, so it’s hard to choose just one design icon. My absolute favourite, however, is the cast bronze step edges at Notting Hill Gate tube station and many other stations. Every time I look at them, they make me think of quality, of a sense of place and appropriateness. They’ve been there for over a hundred years, beautifully polished and patinated everyday by thousands of feet. This is exactly what good design is about and what we’re aiming to do with the New Tube for London: longevity, character, beauty and practicality.”

Paul Prietman, director, PriestmanGoode


“Together with the old Routemaster, I nominate the moquettes designed by Enid Marx for London Transport. Friend of Eric Ravilious, anarchic student at the RCA – insisting on making abstract patterns instead of ‘washed-out Morris stuff’  – she was an instinctive patternmaker and made the interiors of the underground trains into places that were welcoming but robust. Frank Pick commissioned her in 1937 and they remained in use until very recently, but you can still buy them through the London Transport Museum.”

Dinah Casson, partner, Casson Mann


“In a word, our words. Or, more precisely, our signage. It is the omnipresent faithful companion that guides customers through our transport network with ease and confidence. From the considered placement strategies that strive to make every journey as simple as possible, to the materiality of Vitreous Enamel and the use of New Johnston – it is a triumphant blend of form and function. Never sleeping, always serving. A true icon that has stood the test of time.”

Jon Hunter, head of design, Transport for London

MirandaBolter pic

“Mind the gap. Say those three words to any Londoner and they’re immediately transported underground. The yellow line, the rush of air, the race for a seat. It may not be the most beautifully crafted example of typography on the London Underground system, but it’s pretty evocative. The layers upon layers of paint, grubby and well-worn, with the words themselves delivering an underlying threat of death, it sums up the tube for me. It’s far from perfect, but it’s part of the fabric of the city.”

Miranda Bolter, design director, The Partners


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