It’s not just the typography on containers I like, it’s the colours too, like this outstanding trio. The container terminal is a city of towers rich with colour, contrast, and accidents of design. I love the happenstance of placement — like this bold orange stripe that matches and perfectly picks up the underline on the container below it.

Door 5


It is widely believed that black on yellow is the best colour combination for readability and visibility. Yellow and black does have the highest contrast, but high contrast doesn’t necessarily equal readability. It’s true that black and yellow might work well for road signs, police tape or door numbers painted on brick, but much less true for 8pt serif type on a computer monitor. It reminds me of the time when all the zebra crossings were yellow – highly visible on tarmac, especially in the rain. Then came the safety campaign for yellow raincoats for schoolkids (I can still hear that jingle: ‘wearing yellow raincoats is the best protection yet’), which of course was anything but safe – the kids in yellow raincoats all but disappeared on the matching yellow zebra crossings! It was a farce: the campaign was so successful that white raincoats were replaced by yellow ones, but there were so many accidents due to reduced visibility they had to make all the zebra crossings white!

Purple door


Given the prevalence of yellow industrial buildings in the inner suburbs of Sydney I’m pretty sure the colour is chosen not so much for its visibility, although that would surely be a factor, but because the paint is going cheap! This building has its fair share of yellow, but it is the red-framed purple door that caught my eye.


This black on yellow green does exist with other words adjoining it, thereby conveying a more prosaic meaning, but in the first few moments of seeing it I allowed myself to imagine it was the signwriter’s ironic sensibility at play, his inner surrealist let loose. It is a commonly held belief that Mondrian hated green but hopefully he wouldn’t have been offended in this instance!