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
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.