London’s streets are filled with secret subterranean compartments. Vast cavernous tubes that hold the city’s electricity, water, gas and once stored the coal that pushed London into the industrial revolution.
Spring 2016’s Pentagram Paper, Overlooked, is a celebration of the gatekeepers to this underground world - street covers. Designed by Pentagram, the 45th Pentagram Paper uses neon coloured rubbings to present these metal lids as impeccable pieces of industrial design, threaded throughout the functional fabric of a city.
Pentagram’s hope is that Overlooked can serve as a reminder that a city’s beauty isn’t limited to art galleries or grand architecture, and that intricate design is everywhere.
Overlooked consists of rubbings taken of 22 London street covers, from Islington to Kensington. Rubbings were chosen because of the practice’s popularity amongst devout nineteenth century Christians, who used it to make detailed images of religious objects. Overlooked takes this religious tradition to a different territory, using it to celebrate the beauty of heavy and bold utilitarian design.
The rubbings are presented in a folded A1 booklet in neon tones. These feminine and modern colours give a different perspective to the covers' industrial and bold designs, revealing hidden decorative patterns and nuances.
No two halves of one cover appear on the same page. The booklet’s size, colours and mismatched rubbings highlight the level of detail and the individual quirks of each cover's design.
The booklet is accompanied by text that retells London’s history through street covers, outlining the vital roles that each piece of street furniture has had in serving Londoners.