Ken Briggs Collection: Creating the Barbican's Graphic Identity

Explore the Barbican Signs Manuals

Barbican Theatre: Data Sheet: Sign Category B18 Main Title: 2/14.0 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

Ken Briggs Collection

Ken Briggs & Associates were the firm hired to produce the graphic identity of the Barbican Centre for its opening in 1982.

Design Proposal Portfolio: Directional Sign in Situ Graphic by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

Ken Briggs Collection

They had the task of designing the wayfinding system, signage and visuals throughout the Centre.

Barbican Centre Signs Manual Volume Three (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

Ken Briggs Collection

Ken Briggs & Associates layed out the resulting graphic identity in this three-volume Signs Manual. The manuals are A4 and A3 red spiral bound books held in our Archive collection.

Photograph of Directional Sign: Concert Hall by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

The design brief included the signs placed around the Centre, to help visitors find their way

The Typeface: Medium (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

The font the signs were written in, creating a cohesive typographic language for the Centre

Pictograms/Arrows 9-23 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

A collection of pictograms - images which represent different places at the Barbican

Level 5: Area Plan with Sign Location and Type: Barbican Hall and Tier 1 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

It also included laying out where the signs should be placed around the building 

Level 5: Sign Type D : Key for Area Plans: Theatre: Page 2 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

With a corresponding key explaining which signs the diagram is referring to

Data Sheet: standard Layouts: Sign Category D4 Directional/ Large Module: 2/24.0 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

The Signs Manuals show the design of each piece of signage around the building

Design Proposal Portfolio: Directional Signs with Pictograms by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

And examples of what some would look like in situ

Light Typeface: Letters e-h by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

The collection includes a guide to the Barbican's lettering

Look at how the letters have been cut out and pasted onto this board. The design process took place before it was common to use a computer for everything.

Letter Spacing Guide 2/5.0 & 5.1 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

The Signs Manuals go into great detail, such as outlining the spacing required for each type of letter

Data Sheet: Standard Layouts Exit: Sign Category G2: Exit/Illuminated: 2/44.0 (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

The materials that should be used for the signs

4: Rationale: Scheduling and Ordering Signs: B, Main Identifying and Interior Title Signs (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

And when to use different styles of font

Barbican Redevelopment 1959 Barbican Redevelopment 1959 (1959) by Chamberlin, Powel & BonBarbican Centre

Who was Ken Briggs?

Ken Briggs (1931 – 2013) had been a student of Herbert Spencer, who designed the 1959 Barbican Redevelopment proposal. 

Photograph of Directional Sign: Art Gallery, Cinema, Library and Conservatory by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

Who was Ken Briggs?

They also drew on experience working for the National Theatre, English National Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Barbican Centre for Arts & Conferences Signs Manual (1980) by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

Ken Briggs Collection

The Signs Manuals are a comprehensive guide to the way the Barbican looked on opening in 1982. They have been digitised in full so that the Barbican's design history can be accessed by more people.

Photograph of Directional Installed Signs: Level 5 by Ken Briggs & AssociatesBarbican Centre

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