Thames & Hudson publishes new book about supergraphics

Andy Dewhurst

The term “supergraphics” is generally used to label typography and other wall art intended for walls and other large-scale surfaces, a practice that is being increasingly used in recent years. These grand designs can be used to guide people around complex transport systems, such as Lance Wyman’s wayfinding system for Mexico City’s metro network, or simply to

brighten up public spaces and make people happier.

Sean Adams’ new book The Field Guide to Supergraphics: Graphics in the Urban Environment compiles 60 case studies of these giant designs from around the world, splitting them into the four areas of typographic, graphic, colour, and vernacular.

Speaking in an interview with Design Week, Adams said he came up with the idea for the book while researching for another book about design and colour. After repeatedly encountering examples of supergraphics, he decided that they merited a book of their own.

He also talks about how pleased he is that typography can be used to transform a public space and engage the community. As an example, he talks about a walkway in Lisbon that was transformed by Portuguese group P-06 Atelier into something that activates the public by using custom lettering on the ground to express messages and instructions.

Adams also talks about the flawless typography at the Brighton Dome, where gold leaf lettering is used on the walls to tell the story of the building and express information. He says:

“People can go in, enjoy the space and learn something. That’s a really exciting and successful piece of work.”

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