When you think about graphic design's relationship with roads and motorways, the brilliant work of Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir springs immediately to mind. The pair was responsible for the massive redesign of the road sign system in the UK, including the Transport font, used on all road signs, and the iconic road pictograms we're so familiar with today – it's a triumph of design that has enduring influence and impact on road users today, who absorb it so seamlessly they barely know they have been 'designed at'.
But what about the design of roads themselves? It's something that has long fascinated designer Melissa Price. By day Price is a designer at top London agency Cartlidge Levene, but by night she is producer of some fascinating self-initiated design and publishing projects, often focusing on graphic and typographic interpretations of maps and systems. The newest is this series of prints dedicated to the much underrated beauty of 'spaghetti junctions'...
How has your interest in the graphic forms of road systems developed?
Seven years ago, I started drawing motorway junctions, and created a book of them – M1: Fifty Years – to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the M1. I have recently returned to the subject and found a new challenge in the complex geometry of spaghetti junctions.
The original Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham opened in 1972. Encompassing eighteen routes in total, it was built to connect the M6, A38(M), A38 and A5127 north of the city centre. The resulting tangled form was given the 'spaghetti junction' label by a journalist, Roy Smith of the Birmingham Evening News for obvious reasons. The name stuck and nowadays few know its real name – Gravelly Hill Interchange. Since then, many spaghetti junctions have been built around the world, some of amazing complexity.