9 Nov 2017

Cookie Cutter Shops on Walthamstow High Street

Photo: Dezeen

Simon Memel sent me a link to this article on Dezeen by Owen Hatherley about an odd thing that has just happened on Walthamstow High Street. The council has funded the standardisation of shop front signage, leading to the loss of shops’ individual character. I added the following comment to the discussion that has developed underneath, but recommend reading the full article.

And only a short way down the street, we have this (picture below), before and after shown, with further observations on the blog here.

While the process has been taken to an extreme here, there is a strong argument for the calming nature of more subtle signage on high streets*, rather than the competition to be bigger and brighter that has proliferated in many parts of London.

There is a positive in having more restraint, but this doesn’t have to require the complete standardisation of lettering styles from one shop to the next. It is possible to express culture and character within the confines of spaces designed to feature signage within the original architecture of buildings such as these.

My personal recommendation? Commission signwriters to work with the shop owners to develop custom signage that reflects the nature of the businesses occupying the premises. If the council is going to pay for their signage, then this is surely the way to go.

*See Classifying Signs by Harry Leeson, published in the Recorder, Issue One, pp.19-26.

RIP: London Co-Op, Frederic Street, London E17

Subscribe to my newsletter for news, events and projects from the world of ghost signs. I curate the newsletter roughly monthly and welcome submissions.