Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tamworth, Staffordshire

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.


Adam said...

I didn't know that the Co-Op still existed! I would say that the clash here is indeed between two styles, but neither are modern - the Co-Op logo really smacks of the 70s!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, the Co-op still exists! But its logo does look rather 1970s, doesn't it?

Any brandologists out there know how old it is?

Peter Ashley said...

The Co-op 'cloverleaf' logo (albeit a fatter and much better looking one) was designed by John Harris I believe, at the wizzy-sounding Allied Industrial Designers in 1967. It's recently been ditched, in favour of a 'green' identity. Of course.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, Peter. Knew you'd know.