Shopfront race to the bottom

Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Rory W » Tue May 01, 2007 9:23 am

Shop signs have never been uglier. A stroll down the high street has turned into optical torture


Charlie Brooker
Monday April 23, 2007
The Guardian


I live in a town you may have heard of. It is called London. In many ways, it is a great place - excellent local amenities, a giant ferris wheel, and more than a few famous faces (Toby Anstis lives here, as does that woman off Holby City - you know, the nursey one). But there is a downside, too. London - like many other places - has a cancer; an unwelcome phenomenon that has been gradually spreading over the past decade, and is now reaching saturation point. I am talking, of course, about modern laser-printed uPVC retail signage.

Shop fronts have never been uglier. I am not talking about the big chains here - they have spent millions designing their logos. They tend to look crisp and clean and, occasionally, even demure. I have got nothing against, say, Nando's. No, I am annoyed by the little guy - the pound shops, the cheapo grocers, the off-licences and the takeaways with their horrid, shrieking signs. Frankly, I could not give a toss if Tesco bulldozed the lot of them and turned the entire nation into one huge supermarket. At least there would be some typographic consistency.

A few years ago, shopkeepers had three basic options: 1) paint the store front yourself; 2) hire a professional to paint it for you; 3) buy some metal or plastic lettering and screw it over the door. Now, there is a fourth option: get a bunch of clueless, cut-price bastards to design a banner on a computer in six minutes flat, stretch it to fit and print it out using some hideous modern laserjet device filled with waterproof inks the colour of sick.

As a result, we live in a cluttered optical hell of carelessly stretched-and-squashed typefaces and colour schemes that clash so violently they give you vertigo. Stroll down the average high street and it is like being assailed by gaudy pop-ups on the internet. It makes your eyes want to spin inward and puke down their own sockets.

As if thoughtless font abuse were not enough, some signs even incorporate scanned photographs; a garish snap of some glistening meat surrounded by a yellow Photoshop "haze" effect, hovering over an electric blue background, flanked by the words KEBAB DUNGEON in bright red, foot-high Comic Sans crushed to 75% of its usual width. Jesus. Why not just punch me in the face and have done with it?

The overall effect is depressing and disorientating. One computer-assisted eyesore after another, jostling for position, kicking good taste in the nuts. Surely this is more than the human mind can process? I would not be at all surprised to discover that the local crime rate rises each time one of these poxy signs go up. It is enough to put almost anyone in a bad mood.

That is not just idle speculation. Well, all right, it is. But there is little doubt that environment affects mood. That is why we tend to paint our bedroom walls soothing, neutral, off-white shades as opposed to frantic lime green with Day-Glo orange swastikas. When I walk the streets of the tiny Oxfordshire village in which I grew up, my mind feels clearer. I can concentrate in a way that simply isn't possible in London, where my subconscious is too busy trying to filter out the billboards and the lettering and the POUNDLAND ANY ITEM £1 OR LESS.

Laser-printed uPVC shop signs are an atrocity. A sanctioned act of vandalism. They should be outlawed or, at the very least, be put through some kind of approval process in which a panel of graphic designers inspects each proposed sign, rejecting those with squashed typography or obnoxious colour schemes.

Something has got to be done because it is only going to get worse. You know what will be coming next: animated shop signs with moving "wallpaper" backgrounds. Storefronts resembling god-awful homepages from 1998. Row upon row of them. Visual bedlam wherever you turn. Two months of that and our cities are going to be over-run with screaming maniac gangs; hitherto law-abiding citizens driven insane without knowing why, like the demented hordes from 28 Days Later.

It is your fault, shopkeepers. It is your ugly font-abusing fault.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby hutton » Tue May 01, 2007 9:54 am

Charlie Brooker wrote: It makes your eyes want to spin inward and puke down their own sockets.


Quote of the week - invite him to Dublin.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Thu May 03, 2007 12:56 am

Wexford Street here would be a bit like that article describes. And Parnell, Talbot, Dorset and Capel Streets to some degree. It's a pity - the secondary shopping streets just seem to get worse, with no hope for good design.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:23 pm

Image

A new Carroll’s Irish Gift Store on Suffolk Street (within the Grafton Street ACA) is using 10,000 megawatts of light to announce itself. You would think that the adjoining restaurants in this picture are closed for business, but they are open.
But you see it's their new flagship store. Ah fine then, use as much light as you like ...

The Scheme of Special Planning Control for Grafton Street states:

'3.3.10 Ilumination
- Illumination of the shopfront should be discreet, either by concealed tubing where the fascia details permit or by rear illumination of the original mletters
- The colouring and intensity of illumination shall be complementary to the overall shopfront design and architectural context'





Image

Speaking of Carroll’s, the Guinness shop on Westmoreland Street – which is really just another Carroll’s in disguise – has applied to replace its unauthorised shopfront with a permanent one: Ref. 5017/07. The council have requested additional information on it, though with the state of shops along here, I can’t imagine they’re in any hurry to respond …




Image

As GrahamH covered elsewhere, a Supermac’s opened on Westmoreland Street in late 2007 where Barnies Café had been, and Beshoff's before that. This is a very dark development. Under the O’Connell Street plan, the fast food restaurants were supposed to be decreasing in number, not increasing.

It’s with DCC planning enforcement at the moment. The issue is to determine whether or not a new fast food restaurant at this address is exempted development. While the Beshoff's fish restaurant that had operated there for many years was technically a fast food restaurant (suggesting a new fast food would not require CoU permission) it had ceased business since circa 2004, so a new fast food restaurant is likely subject to the O’Connell Street Special Planning Control Scheme which said that there are ‘no locations in the area of Area of Special Planning Control that are considered suitable for additional fast food outlets’.


[align=center]~~~~~~[/align]


This stretch of Westmoreland Street, between the quays & Fleet Street, is now I think worse than the infamous O’Connell Street burger strip. Just look at the uses, starting at the quay end:

CONVENIENCE STORE/OFF LICENSE – double-front Londis, beer stacked in the windows
PADDYWHACKERY – double-front Carroll’s
PHARMACY – shock normal use!
FAST FOOD – Abrakebabra
PADDYWHACKERY – with unauthorised Guinness shopfront
FAST FOOD – new Supermac’s
ACCESSORIES SHOP – or something. Does anyone know what Claire’s actually sells?
VACANT – double front of legendary Dublin café lying waste; though DCC have just granted permission for it to be turned into a shop
PUBLIC HOUSE – the only part of the former Bewley’s concern to have survived
NEWSAGENT/PADDYWHACKERY – Coleman’s newsagent, more than half of which is given over to paddywhackery


To cap it off, I suggest the pharmacy is turned into a Paddy Powers!
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby fergalr » Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:26 pm

Em...people need to see the new Polish Store on Aston Quay. It is jaw droppingly bad. Did you know that the national colours of Poland are red and white? You will once you see it!!!
I'm not kidding, if you were irritated about Centra....:eek:
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:53 pm

I saw a very bad red & white Polish one on Capel Street.





Image . Image

The takeover of Dublin by Spar continues at this former Centra, D'Olier Street, with de rigueur deterioration in visual amenity.




Image

I see Best menswear at the Spire is closing down. Pity, it was one of the few shops on O'Connell Street to fit into the 'Champs Elysee shops' vision of the 1998 IAP. What will replace it? If you look at the three adjoining shops – a Carroll's, an Abrakebabra and a sex shop – the signs are not good. Maybe Spar would consider taking over the lease (shriek!)




Image

Still in the O'Connell ACA, a double-front poundshop recently opened on Abbey Street Lr. Are we winning or losing?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby fergalr » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:04 am

Devin wrote:Image

I see Best menswear at the Spire is closing down. Pity, it was one of the few shops on O'Connell Street to fit into the 'Champs Elysee shops' vision of the 1998 IAP. What will replace it? If you look at the three adjoining shops – a Carroll's, an Abrakebabra and a sex shop – the signs are not good. Maybe Spar would consider taking over the lease (shriek!)


I bought a suit there in Novermber, during their closing down sale... if they're closing down then they are doing it slllooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwllly

Devin wrote:Image

Still in the O'Connell ACA, a double-front poundshop recently opened on Abbey Street Lr. Are we winning or losing?


That's where the very dinky and grandmothery china showrooms used to be :( Veritas watch out... you might be next.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Tue Mar 11, 2008 11:24 pm

Ahaaa ... I'd forgotten what was there. You would think somebody was deliberately trying to downgrade shop uses in the O'Connell Street area shop by shop.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby fergalr » Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:52 pm

There's a threeway battle between Centra, Spar and Londis for the soul of the city. I for one just don't believe that we're in need of quite this many newsagents. Abbey St is a bit of a breath of fresh air in terms if individual shops. Franchise creep isn't to be welcomed. We've now got a Spar opposite an O'Briens and a Eurosaver. I bet this street will be the location for the first northside Starbucks.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby alonso » Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:11 pm

well boys and girls it's with great sadness that I witnessed one of THE most horrific case of franchise creep in suburban Dublin yesterday. As I sat gawking about from the top of the 45 bus in Blackrock I saw that the old Post Office, which closed a while back, is now home to a Starbucks. Now I must admit that it's not exactly screaming "corporate takeover" from the rooftops as it's fairly ok compared to the trash DCC have sponsored in their area, and the old "Post Office" lettering and insignia remains as far as I can recall. But jaysus did it have to be fcking Starbucks!!!

Here it is in it's former state for ye who see the canals as a wall past which one must not venture ;)

Image
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby hutton » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:32 am

alonso wrote:Here it is in it's former state for ye who see the canals as a wall past which one must not venture ;)

Ah Alonso its not the canals - its south of the Dodder where Bandit Country begins :p
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Landarch » Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:48 am

Alonso. Even though it is a Starbucks I think it was a very sensitive, restrained conversion. As you said it is quite subtle from the outside. Inside, is tastefully done with plenty of original features preserved. I also like that they have made a strong effort to open the rear of the buliding up to the sea. There is a plenty of glass and a large outdoor terrace/balcony with tables and chairs.
I think it is disappointing that this terrace of buildings doesn't make any reference to the coastline and the views. It's a very bleak imposing bulk of services and concrete when viewed from the DORT station.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Andrew Duffy » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:54 am

While I hate both of them as companies and hate their products, Starbucks and McDonalds seem to be the corporations most sensitive to protected structures with their signage. I'd rather that a commercial building retains a commercial use rather than be demolished and a concrete apartment building built behind its facade.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Rory W » Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:22 pm

As someone whio works out here in bandit country, most people around weren't aware that Starbucks had opened in the old PO such is the sensitivity of the transformation. Think they did a good job on it so credit where it's due.

And if not Starbucks then who?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:24 am

I agree that they are in architectural terms a good occupier; Starbucks have more than 600 stores in Central London and their brand recognition really does enable them to do uber-sensitive signage on old banks and the like in a way that no other occupier can do.

With the Spar/Centra/Londis domination of the market one wonders why they don't have the nuts to rely on their obviously equal brand recognition as well when it comes to signage in sensitive locations. As starbucks have proven in London occupiers wil obey the rule of planners; as they often acquire their tenancies through leasehold interest purchase so therefore they are sitting on a depreciating asset day 1 and do not wish to delay store opening by being silly.


(In case anyone thinks this is an ad for Starbucks I believe that Cafe Nero do better coffee!)
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby CTR » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:21 pm

archipimp wrote:well eurocycles is still there ruining a whole street... and i get a feeling they keep replacing it with a slightly bigger version every week or so just to keep the shock value(as if it needed help to do that)!


It's STILL there... I'm kinda used to it at this stage, but it goes to show that DCC aren't too bothered about enforcement imho.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:12 pm

I guess that in this age of plastic the shopfront has replaced the till for the greasy hand!

DCC you should be ashamed of yourself for letting a single lessee get away with this; public sector pay freeze!
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:13 am

CTR wrote:
archipimp wrote:well eurocycles is still there ruining a whole street... and i get a feeling they keep replacing it with a slightly bigger version every week or so just to keep the shock value(as if it needed help to do that)!
It's STILL there... I'm kinda used to it at this stage, but it goes to show that DCC aren't too bothered about enforcement imho.
They 'went legit' in October by lodging a planning application for appropriate signage, which was granted permission in March - Ref. 5562/07
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby CTR » Mon May 12, 2008 10:33 pm

Devin wrote:They 'went legit' in October by lodging a planning application for appropriate signage, which was granted permission in March - Ref. 5562/07


I got a surprise while wandering up William St on my way home this evening :)

Took well over two years and there's a bit of painting to do yet, but at least there's finally a resolution to this long running eyesore.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby hutton » Mon May 12, 2008 11:17 pm

I want a "eurocycle"... Or do I want a "eurobaby"? :confused:


Yep, that'll be two eurocycles and a eurobaby for the chisler...
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby lunasa » Tue May 13, 2008 1:36 am

I want a recycled baby for a euro.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue May 13, 2008 2:53 am

Still pretty crude.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby ctesiphon » Tue May 13, 2008 12:00 pm

Paul Clerkin wrote:Still pretty crude.


All it needs now is a shopfront. :rolleyes:
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Tue May 13, 2008 9:06 pm

Bike shops have form in the signage department.

This is the old Paddy Whelan Cycles shop at 119 - 120 Cork Street. It's been closed for some time, but the signage endures. No. 120 is a probable former twin gabled, three storey, 'Dutch Billy', with a pair of very deep perpendicular roof volumes subsequently lowered and hipped behind a flat parapet.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby DOC » Wed May 14, 2008 5:46 am

Pram Boutique - nice! ;)
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