13 Jan Signs and Signals to Reach Destination
Millions of people take the subway every day in our city completely ignoring the existence of one of the most innovative and relevant parts of this complex system, responsible for helping to reach your destination in a timely and secure way.
We are talking about nothing less than the network map designed by Diseño Shakespear in 1995, under the umbrella project of the new identity, following the unprecedented and innovative logic punctuated by Henry Beck for the London Underground, around 1931. To date, most -if not all— of the plans for public transport in the cities around the world have been designed following suit.
Harry Beck (London, June 4, 1902 – September 18 1974), electrical engineer by profession, redesigned the map of the London Underground network in his spare time proposing a radical change regarding the way to address the communication problem at hand.
The current map by then consisted of a topographic representation of almost total rigor, that is, a strict correlation inch by inch of the route of the line and the geographical location of stations, taking into account every street, intersection, road, etc. This meant a great difficulty in terms of readability of the map, causing major headaches for passengers, not to mention the impossibility of keeping up to date with the network’s quick expansion. The great innovation proposed by Beck consisted of a break with this topographic mimesis; following the visual logic of electrical circuit diagrams, it posed a completely new design, characterized by order, synthesis and simplicity, in which the visual representation of information was put at the service of functionality and reading/decoding speed, abandoning the “accurate” reflection of reality.
In terms of innovation and design, the great lesson we can take from Beck is his ability to “think outside the box”, to break with the interpretation and representation of reality parameters, and the importance of information modeling put to the service of communication to operate in the context of such a complex and rapidly changing world.