SYMBOLS AT WORK
Sir: Surely your observation (DESIGN 307/21) on the use of a symbol for the Greater Manchester Transport Authority misses the point of these devices. Many comments offered seem to evaluate the symbol in terms of the aesthetic satisfactions derived by the designer and his client. This sort of comment, couched in pseudo-objective language, does indeed beg a question but not whether the symbol is necessary. Discussion at this level implies that we need symbols of this sort so that the client and graphic designers can indulge in new flights of fancy every time a new organisation is created. For a commercial undertaking this is possibly excusable, but for a public utility the use of such a graphic sign surely has some operational significance as well, as Alan Johnson so rightly implies in his letter (DESIGN 307/75).
A sign such as that designed for a Transport Authority is not just an emblem of the organisation, but one to be used as a source of information in the public domain when a user is identifying the service so that he may access it on the street or in a building or on a map. The use of the sign on such an obvious place as a vehicle itself provides the necessary perceived relation between the symbol and the transport service, so that when one is searching for a station, a bus stop or an information point amongst all the visual noise of the commercial environment, it can easily be detected. When such devices are effective (usually because they are not only well designed but also intelligently applied - pace the ubiquitous London Transport Symbol) then the device ceases to be an emblem, and becomes a true symbol relating effectively to the users' needs. Let's have these principles embodied in the brief to the designers of such devices, and less specious remarks about the aesthetics. If a symbol works, it will be highly regarded by the users and that is the best compliment that it can be paid.
R S Easterby, Aston University applied psychology department, College House, Gosta Green, Birmingham B4 7ET
WAVE TO THE CROWDS
Sir: We would wish to comment on the article published in July DESIGN, in which subjective, comparative references were made to the performance of wave-making machines installed at the Rotherham and Whitley Bay Leisure Centres.
Notwithstanding the subjective opinions expressed in the article, or indeed those of any other persons connected with these projects, it is important to point out that in each case the operating specifications required by the designers of the pool were met by the equipment manufacturers in terms of both wave propagation and wave energy.
Armfield Engineering Ltd has many years' experience in the production of wave generators for scientific research; many installations meeting specification orders of magnitude more exacting than those necessarily imposed by operation in leisure centres have been successfully commissioned. Upon the basis of such activity, our company is confident in its ability to meet any technical and operational requirements.
We are able to produce wave generators to provide diamond or parallel wave patterns, or both; suitable for continuous operation with performance guarantees, provided upon the basis of model tests undertaken to assist the architects on the pool design.
R F Pitcher, marketing director Armfield Engineering Ltd, Ringwood, Hampshire BH24 1PE