A Practice for Everyday Life

Brutal London is a photographic exploration of the post-war modernist architecture of London, documented by photographer Simon Phipps. The featured buildings are arranged by borough, including the City of London, with locations highlighted on maps to enable the reader to explore the sites.

The layout and typography of the book is a nod to the design of printed material from architectural periodicals of the time, and the graphic identities of the local councils, who often dictated the signage in the buildings when they were being used as social housing. The title typeface is a modular sans serif based on sketches by Jesse Collins in 1937. Its style is similar to the typography used for the naming signage on several of the featured tower blocks. Photography throughout the book is presented in black and white, with endpapers and chapter title pages in orange – a brighter, more contemporary shade of the colour often found in documentation of the buildings from the time they were built.

Collins was a member of the Industrial Design Partnership, a precursor to Design Research Unit, one of the most significant British design consultancies of the post-war years.

Body text and headers throughout the book are set in Monotype Grotesk, a family of strongly irregular sans-serif typefaces created by Frank Hinman Pierpont, and released around 1926. The designs were created at different times and for different purposes, maintaining some similarities, but adapted to suit each width and style at the expense of consistency. A mixture of these styles can also be found on signage around many of the sites.