Art on the Underground launched a new series of permanent artworks devised by Design Work Leisure (DWL) installed at Blackhorse Road, Victoria and Vauxhall stations between 2015 – 2019.
Design Work Leisure (DWL) is a design office established by artist Giles Round in 2015 as part of Underline a series of art commissions for the Victoria line. DWL revisits the values and vision of Arts & Crafts exponent William Morris who believed that great art should be for everybody. The project also celebrates the legacy of Frank Pick, managing director of London Underground in the early 20th century who commissioned many of the great design tropes of London Underground including the Johnston typeface and Harry Beck’s Tube map.
DWL’s designs utilise historical models of production, working with London Underground tile manufacturers Craven Dunnill Jackfield and in doing so the project provides a critical lens to examine contemporary aesthetics and the hierarchies between applied and fine arts.
Drawing on the belief that good design leads to a better society, Round’s office launched in Summer 2015 with a design directive for the Victoria line. Distributed for free in every Underground station, the Directive outlined DWL’s design aims and objectives for producing functional yet quality crafted objects for use in the network. Over the 12-month period of the project, Design Work Leisure built on London Underground’s rich design heritage to devise, research and develop bespoke products for the physical environment of the network, for staff and passengers to enjoy.
William Morris 1834 — 1896
Born at Elm House in Walthamstow, William Morris was an artist, designer, writer and socialist. He was a key figure in the revival of many traditional methods of textile production in reaction to the mass industrial manufacturing he saw take hold of England. In 1875 Morris founded decorative arts company Morris & Co. with the aim of bringing his progressive arts and crafts values to the people.
Frank Pick 1878 — 1941
Frank Pick was London Underground’s managing director during the early 20th century. Committed to good design he directly commissioned artists, illustrators and designers to produce works for London Underground. Pick established the concept of ‘total design’, influenced by William Morris, and many of his implementations remain today including the Roundel logo, Johnston typeface and some of the system’s more iconic early 20th century architecture including Charles Holden’s Piccadilly line stations.
Design Research Unit 1942 — 2004
The Design Research Unit was a design consultancy operating between the fields of architecture, graphic and industrial design. It sought to harmonise art and design with technology and industrial processes in order to establish quality design for post-war Britain. In 1964 Misha Black, the Design Research Unit’s founding designer, was appointed as consultant for London Underground to create the overall design aesthetic for the Victoria line.