Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Back to the future
Shops are amongst the most frequently updated of all our buildings. During the past few years it has seemed as if some High Street shops have had their fronts ripped off and replaced with the latest signage or corporate redesign once a year or more. Now, as old retail names disappear, this process seems likely to be replaced with one of boarding-up. But both modern ‘instant signs’ and shuttering ply can leave bits of old shop fronts peeping through. I like these fragmentary reminders of older styles, former ways of selling, and lost businesses, like the evidence of fishmongering I spied recently on the front of a Cheltenham barber’s.
Here’s another example, although this time the business remains the same. This Tamworth Cooperative store must date to the 1930s, its wonderful Art Deco tiling blending hints of ancient Egypt with the kind of ‘moderne’ proportions and abstract patterns that looked futuristic 75 years ago. The splash of colour, the lettering (straight out of advertisements in the backs of 1930s magazines), and that hint of community work (‘Hall & Offices’) are typical of times. So too are those thin lines of eau de nil just beneath the ‘lotus’ motif. The contrast with today’s Co-op logo couldn’t be greater. How marvellous that it’s all still there.