Boris Johnson praises traditional design

London Mayor Boris Johnson has reinforced his position as an upholder of tradition in design, while acknowledging design’s importance to the capital’s economy

Speaking at the opening of the London Design Festival last night, Johnson said he is ‘proud to be supporting new design and defending old great designs’. The statement follows his intervention last week after Transport for London removed the River Thames from Harry Beck’s seminal Tube map from the 1930s.

Johnson cited the policeman’s helmet, the telephone kiosk and the Routemaster bus – ‘a wonderful, perfect piece of work’ – as older designs that sum up the personality of London. He also mentioned the Brompton bicycle and, controversially, the Wolff Olins-designed identity for the 2012 London Olympics as enduring designs important to 

the capital.

Johnson says he sees London as ‘the hub of the creative industries’. The city may lack industrial resources, but, he says, some 186 000 people make a living through their creativity, generating £11.6bn in revenue for the capital each year. Design, he says, ‘is a marriage of artistic form and intrinsic value’.

Johnson delivered his speech at the Foster & Partners-designed City Hall, commissioned by his predecessor Ken Livingstone. He described the building as ‘a pile of collapsing pancakes and Darth Vader’s hat’, though he said it is a good place to work.

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  • Stephanie Brown November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    If design is so important to the London economy, why did he issue a free pitch for the London identity, effectively forcing design businesses to lose money?

  • Alison Prendiville November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Since the arrival of Boris Johnson the ‘real time’ bus information that was so crucial in improving the service experience of bus passengers and changing the perceptions of the service quality, is now being removed through poor maintenance. This information system was critical in increasing bus passenger usage. Boris may wish to preserve the Route Master but if passengers don’t have up-to-the-minute information they stop using the service regardless of the iconic status of the vehicle.

  • asen November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


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