Wailuku was once a thriving centre, although the few times I’ve been there not much has been going on. A walk along Market Street reveals hints of former glory, where the varied architecture sits against the dramatic backdrop of the Iao Valley. I liked the simplicity of this building, the 1932 almost too subtle to be noticed, especially on this drizzly grey day.
I relate to this picture today. Time hanging mid-air, wires every which way, like something will short circuit any moment and the dangling clock will fall. But while I would prefer my day to be more linear in nature, and less like a criss-cross of live wires, I also love the aesthetics of this scene: cables leading to who knows where, the mess of transformers and connections, the yellow border on the clock and the decorative numbers on the clock face. The 2 and 4 are particularly pleasing.
The juxtaposition of these numbers is quite dramatic: the brass serif 623 on brick, the grey metal sans serif 621 on a concrete rendered wall. Both have plenty of character and the blocky shadow of the 621 is particularly striking, although it’s hard to say if the angle of the sun had any influence on its design. I especially like that such different styles can exist side by side, as neighbours.
The numbers on telegraph poles mean something. It’s like a secret coded language, a shorthand of information for those in the know. Some markers are fairly obvious: a red-on-white HP indicates the location of a hydrant, a vertical black-on-yellow bus stop speaks for itself. Some numbers indicate the pole number and the distance from the source—which might be what these are—but it doesn’t really matter because I am biased more towards the aesthetic appeal of wonky silver numbers hammered into dry, splitting, splintery timber, and the rich array of textures and tonality. The much newer smart poles, with their banners, cctv and feature lighting, are not nearly so abundantly accessorised.
The number 19 by itself would be noteworthy but its surroundings give it an added dimension. There is such attention to detail in the ornate framing and duotone brickwork. The left hand side of the facade had matching brickwork and a corresponding framed AD, but I liked this side better because of the way it abuts the concrete pillar of the neighbouring building. On a dull day it would most likely look completely different but the blue sky and clear light make the concrete appear architecturally dramatic.
This number ten adorns an industrial building in Alexandria, although, given the widespread gentrification of the area, I’m not sure whether the building actually houses an industry or if the facade hides some fabulously chic domestic architectural wonder. Either way, someone has gone to the trouble of painting the brick wall white and placing the street number in an orange oval, giving it much more appeal and personality than if they had attached an off-the-shelf number from the hardware store.
It’s still cold. And wet. And miserable. And it’s all because of the super moon, with a trough off the coast and a low pressure system. A super moon is when the moon comes closer to Earth than usual—a hop, step and a jump at only 356,991 kilometres away to be precise—at the same time it is full. So the tides are high too, and my locality received more than half its average June rainfall in a single day. Inside the heater is on, and outside the washing is hanging wet and forlorn on the line, waiting for a sunny day.
It’s not that I’m particularly interested in signage per se, it’s just that it’s so prevalent and serves as such a public arena for a hugely diverse range of typographic styles and usage. Good design and appropriate use of type can make the ordinary, like this storage facility, look striking. This view is at the back entrance, where each of the numbers and roller doors are their own bold colour, but the view from the main road is eyecatching too: the numbers, even bigger than this one, sit at ground level and hug the corners of the building, their minimalist simplicity making them stand out from the crowd of industrial neighbours.
Impact was designed in 1965 by Geoffrey Lee for British type foundry Stephenson Blake. Stephenson Blake was the last active type foundry in Britain, producing type in zinc as late as 2001. When it closed in 2005 its typographic equipment, by then commercially worthless but historically priceless, was passed on to Monotype and the London Type Museum. Impact, with its thick strokes and compressed letterspacing, was intended, as its name suggests, for impact. It is a typeface best used for headlines rather than body text. Or really, really big numbers, like this one.
The New Brighton Hotel on Manly Corso was built around 1879 but the 1926 that it so proudly displays marks the year it was redeveloped in the Egyptian style. Although the architecture does feature some Egyptian-inspired decorative elements, there’s nothing very Egyptian about the number. But it hardly matters! Manly was a prosperous place in 1926, and preparations for the Manly Jubilee were well under way. Plans included a Venetian Carnival, Jubilee Surf Carnival, Jubilee Grand Ball, Grand Jubilee Water Pageant, and even a visit by the Duke and Duchess of York. The royals never made it: instead, parties of naval officers were brought in as compensation. I don’t know what part the New Brighton played in all this, but I bet the bar was jumpin’!