A Festival of Britain Southbank Exhibition Guide landed on my desk this week, I’m happy to say it is holding its own alongside Monocle, Port, Intelligent Life and the rest and will be finding a place in the reference archive soon. This is an interesting physical document of the exhibition and a reflection of the era. The central exhibition guide and numerous advertisements that sandwich it are of bold, optimistic design and speak of progress and investment.
First planned in 1947 and realised in 1951 the Festival was to be a catalyst, a ‘tonic for the nation’ that would springboard post-war rejuvenation. It took in numerous aspects of life and culture and particularly celebrated Britain’s contribution to science, technology, the arts and design.
The lasting visual legacy of the Festival was determined by the graphic designer Abram Games. He was already making his name as a poster artist during the war, but in 1948 his Olympic Games stamp designs were released [earning him the nickname Olympic Games], and he won the Festival of Britain design competition. His Festival Star became one of the most recognisable images of post-war Britain. However there is an even more iconic logo in the guide, the London Transport roundel is still in use virtually unchanged over 60 years later.