Monday, September 5, 2016


I am visiting England for my daughter's graduation from Oxford Brookes Architectural Studies.  One morning we gathered in a tiny coffee shop on Cowley Road and on the wall was this little sign.  The author, Saul Leiter was an American photographer.  I think, that had he been wandering with me in England, he would have been taking photos of signs.  The British have a most unique manner of signage, which to me, indicates a different philosophy than that of Americans.

Take the sign "Way Out".  When I see it, I feel like I having been wandering a deep woods and through my own skill and capacity have finally found a path out.  I feel capable and excited.  The American version of this sign - Exit - feels more like a command and it doesn't make me feel the least bit competent.  Likewise, the British sign "Help Point" graciously acknowledges that I may be at a loss - a very human condition, whereas - Information - implies that there is data available.

 And then there is the humor.  British humor.  Can this be on purpose?  According to the sign below is the toilet really disabled?  And do the parents haul around baby changing facilities?  Only some parents or all parents?

"NO! At any time."  What does the sign below mean?  The British again seem to leave the interpretation up to me.  I feel in control.  I love it.

I shall be careful with my bills.

The British are watching to see what I think of their philosophy of gracious signage.

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