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Margaret Calvert: Typography Making the World

Margaret Calvert in Wallpaper*
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Margaret Calvert: Designer of Typography

If you have traveled in Britain, you have been surrounded by the work of designer and typographer Margaret Calvert(1936-). While studying illustration at Chelsea School of Art, she had to the opportunity to be the assistant to Jock Kinneir in designing signs for the new motorway, and this turned into designing for all of Britain’s roadways and they became Kinneir, Calvert and Associates, and took on the railways and many other projects.  Take a few minutes to watch the video President’s Lecture: Margaret Calvert, where she describes her feeling for the letters, the white space as important as the text itself, and her sense of play in drawing and drafting.  

Her self portrait is just perfect.  She found a Men at Work sign from her design in the street, and took it home and turned it into herself: Woman at Work.  She describes how the signs are about the people who use them: how will this look to someone driving 70 mph?  Can it be read at that speed? Calvert and Kinneir met with controversy at first because they used capitals with lowercase letters instead of the traditional all capitals.  

Typography is near to my heart because of the house numbers I create along with my husband at Nutmeg Designs.  Flowing around number forms gives me an intimate sense of each digit.  I didn’t expect to find this so rewarding.  We want our house numbers to be beautiful and visible.  I remember when my husband saw a hapless pizza delivery guy on the sidewalk looking for a house.  He pointed to our neighbor’s house, with the number we had created, and said “I can read that number,” and wished that all were that easy to make out.  


Margaret Calvert Self Portrait
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Margaret Calvert Self Portrait: Woman at Work


'This Is Design' at the Design Museum: Typography from Margaret Calvert
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‘This Is Design’ at the Design Museum: Typography from Margaret Calvert


Margaret Calvert: Icon of the Year 2013

Way to Go: The Woman who Invented Britains Road Signs


  1. Alan Emmott says:

    Dear Sir

    Firstly, I am Alan who sat at the same table as yourself on a 2 year graphics course under Jock Kinneir at Chelsea school of art 1956 to 1958, After that I was employed as a graphic Artist, Photo imaging and deputy Studio manager at a Southwark Printing group for 25 years, then as a freelancer in Design Studios after that. .

    I am interested to view any reference or display about margaret Calvert Road sign graphic designs, and maybe I could send a email or letter to her, to catch up on old times. I suspect, that like me, she is well retired by now.

    Yours faithfully Alan C Emmott

    [email protected]

  2. Alan Emmott says:

    Thank you for your reply.

    Is Margaret Calvert available these days to receive e mails as I would like to send her a message from one 1956 Chelsea Art student to another

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