9 Nov 2018
London Street Level by Robert Brownjohn
I recently (28 October) hosted ‘Font Sunday’ on Twitter with the theme of ‘fading fonts’ to mark the changing of the clocks and the fading light it signifies. Among the contributions made was a tweet from Eliza Brownjohn, daughter of the designer Robert Brownjohn (1925-1970) who took the photo above in 1961.
It is one of a collection of 137 images from Brownjohn’s ‘London Street Level’ series, which is now held in its entirety by the V&A. They are a remarkable collection, focused on a variety of signage and lettering found across the city upon Robert’s arrival from America. He remarked that:
“The photographs were harvested on one trip around London. The things they show have very little to do with Design, apart from achieving its object. They show what weather, wit, accident, lack of judgement, bad taste, bad spelling, necessity and good loud repetition can do to put a sort of music into the streets where we walk”.
I have selected ten of my favourites from those published on Eliza’s site dedicated to Brownjohn and his work, and would recommend reading the critical analysis of the series by Rick Poyner in the Design Observer, as well as Francis Hodgson’s observations on the photos and their place within the context of his wider work.
Thank you to Eliza & Rachel Brownjohn for permission to re-publish these photographs.