Margaret Calvert: Know your audience

In this interview at AGI Open 2013, British typographer Margaret Calvert talks about road signs and what the driver needs.
Posted 1 Nov 13 By Design Indaba Duration: 00:05:15 Graphic Design & Illustration Interviews / Video Interviews Comments

Part of the event

Margaret Calvert is a graphic designer known famously for her design of many of the road signs used throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the typefaces Calvert and Transport.

At AGI Open London 2013, following her talk at the conference with Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne, she spoke to Design Indaba about designing lettering and road signs from scratch, and focussing on the driver’s needs.

Calvert’s work started in the 1950s when vehicle ownership was booming and the government was alarmed at clogged-up roads. With the decision to create motorways, the existing road signs became inadequate for the new speed at which people would be travelling. Jock Kinnear, assisted by Calvert, embarked on creating a new set of road signs.

“When you design road signs you have to start from scratch,” she says. “We looked at what they already had and then started drawing letterforms in terms of making it readable for the driver.”

It’s all about asking the right questions and knowing for whom you are designing – it's not always only about putting your personality into a particular design, she says.

Designers have two sides, she adds: one that focusses solely on whom the design is for; and another that likes to play, that is creative and inventive.

Calvert also recently worked on the website in an advisory position to designer Ben Terrett, who spoke at Design Indaba Conference 2013.

Margaret Calvert was a speaker at Design Indaba Conference 2016, where her talk recieved a standing ovation.