an oasis in the heart of London
(A hypothetical brief at Falmouth University)
Nestled in the corner of Hyde Park near Marble Arch, an outdoor wild swimming experience like no other. The London Ponds use excess hot air from the London Underground to heat a series of pools cut into the landscape and surrounded by trees and wildlife. The brief itself was to design an advertisement for this space — a spark, inviting commuters out of the hot, dry tunnels and into fresh air and pleasant water.
I looked at what I believe is the golden age of poster advertising — railway posters from the 1930s and ’40s, currently experiencing a revival thanks in part to nostalgia, and in part to a resurgence in the British public’s appreciation of traditional art.
In particular, some of the language of the Underground stood out to me. The way words are used in advertising today is short and to-the-point, or long and expositional, but rarely as it was in the early 20th century: poetic. I found reference to an unreleased wartime poster, with the motto:
“Our trains are run by lightning,
Our tube like thunder sound;
But you can dodge the thunderbolt
By going Underground.”
From these elements, the final design took shape. For an illustrated poster, I elected not to go with something as long as a four-line verse, but rather a two-line homage thereto.
A modern tribute to the historic style, my treatment is scaffolding — the same basic structure could easily be used, with different type and image, as a series of several posters advertising different aspects of the London Ponds. While artistic license has been taken, the colour palette takes significant cues from Transport for London’s own — the water being the same shade of blue, for example, as the Waterloo & City line.
The London Ponds advertising project was completed as part of my studies at Falmouth University in May 2016.