London, UK
London Underground

“Good design should be the driver of decision-making, should permeate every level of the organisation, and should, ultimately, be celebrated by everyone. The idiom is more than a set of principles; it is a philosophy, an attitude and a way of thinking. It promotes a joined-up, people-focused and design-minded Underground, the best network in the world” (London Underground Station Design Idiom)

The London Underground Station Design Idiom is a continuation the organisation’s great design heritage by ensuring that great design is at the heart all new projects, regardless of scale.

The scope of the Design Idiom is deliberately wide-ranging. It covers small interventions, like repainting, through to full station refurbishments and new builds. It complements existing London Underground standards and guidance and is the first port of call for all design decision-making on the network.  

We won the commission for The London Underground Design Idiom at a time when the Underground was going through a period of great change.

Our challenge was to balance the needs of the station with those of commerce, identifying what makes a station feel like a station. At the heart of these principles is the idea of balance, that stations should always be considered in their ‘wholeness’ while making sure that commerce is always embedded within this broader outlook.  

To discover the essential criteria for the idiom we had conversations with all levels of the LU team, from frontline staff to directors.  Alongside these consultations, we devised a simple framework for the design that is shaped around a core set of design principles ranging from the conceptual to the pragmatic, combining the many strands of good transport design into one key handbook.