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An Examination of the 1960s Attempt at a New Brand Identity for the General Post Office

An Examination of the 1960s Attempt at a New Brand Identity for the General Post Office doi:10.1093/jdh/epx026 An Examination of the 1960s Journal of Design History Vol. 31 No. 2 Attempt at a New Brand Identity for the General Post Office David Cabianca In 1965, the UK designer F.H.K. Henrion was commissioned by the General Post Office to survey the state of design within the organization. The survey report was to form the basis for commissioning a new corporate identity, or ‘house style’, intended to visually unify the various operational divisions of the GPO as well as cultivate the image of a modern and progressive public entity in the minds of the public. Ultimately, thanks to factors that actively or indirectly hampered his efforts, Henrion’s attempt to produce a new, modern identity would, in large part, collapse. While it is true many professional projects do not bear fruit, one does not typically have a detailed account of the factors which might lead an initiative to fail. In this instance, archival records present a tale of intransigence precipitated by career civil servants determined to secure their positions, the conscious obstruction of change because of professional jealousy, and an overall general ineptitude when strength of leadership was required. This paper uses records from client correspondence, PO Board minutes, and internal memos housed in the British Postal Museum to trace the development of Henrion’s efforts from the client’s perspective. Keywords: corporate identity—General Post Office (GPO)—branding—modernization— modernist typography—F.H.K. Henrion Introduction Established in 1517 as ‘The King’s Posts’, today’s Royal Mail has five hundred years of history and tradition behind it, but in the 1960s its culture of inertia made institu- tional change within the General Post Office (GPO) difficult if not impossible. Prior to 1 October 1969, the GPO was a government department led by the Postmaster General, a ministerial appointee selected by the British Prime Minister. Following the 1964 elec- tion, Prime Minister Harold Wilson appointed Anthony Wedgwood Benn as Postmaster General (PMG), a position he was to hold for twenty-one months, from October 1964 1 2 until July 1966. Despite his rather privileged background, Benn was a left-of-centre reformer and during his short tenure as PMG he sought to modernize the GPO by introducing a number of initiatives, including the creation of a national giro banking system, the issuing of postage stamps without an image of the Queen’s head and, most controversially, the removal of the GPO as a government department and its div- ision into separate Crown-owned corporations. Attempting to modernize the GPO was a long process, attempted by numerous PMGs over the course of their appointments. As early as 1959, the then PMG Ernest Marples © The Author(s) [2017]. Published had commissioned Sir Hugh Casson and Misha Black of the Design Research Unit (DRU) by Oxford University Press on in London and Liverpool architects Ormrod and Partners with W.L. Stevenson to con- behalf of The Design History ceive new experimental designs for post offices with the intent of using the designs as Society. All rights reserved. future templates. Marples’ commission was particularly unusual because, as a general Advance Access publication 23 August 2017 rule when a new post office was needed, the GPO provided a list of requirements Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 and the Ministry of Public Building and Works (MPBW) was charged with assigning the job to local architects who were given considerable autonomy. The outcome from Marples’ commissions was displayed in an exhibition titled ‘A House Style for Post Offices’, mounted at the GPO’s Fleet Building in London in October 1962 [1]. The exhibit brought together for the public various solutions for the design of store fronts, post office interiors, signage, modular systems of construction assembly, and a new Clarendon typeface for Post Office use. Although some elements did find their way into future post office use, the design exercise turned out to be, on the whole, prohibi- tively expensive yet it highlighted a need to coordinate building, industrial design, and what we recognize today as ‘corporate identity’ standards. While the plan to create an encompassing and organized house style under the control of an internal committee emerged slowly, the actual date can be traced to a memo of 25 May 1962, when Chief Public Relations Director Toby O’Brien charged his Deputy Director of Public Relations, Frank Savage, with investigating the notion of an internal Post Office Design Unit, responsible for coordinating design operations between the various departments of the GPO. Savage’s recommendations followed his consultation with the British Transport Commission (BTC) which had already established a Design Panel with a chief design officer and a staff of eight. Both Sir Gordon Russell, Design Advisor to the BTC, and Paul Reilly, Chairman of the Council of Industrial Design (CoID), recommended the creation of a design panel or design-coordinating unit. But the ini- tial enthusiasm expressed by the various GPO directors was soon tempered, following the outright hostility to the idea from the engineering division responsible for indus- trial products (e.g. consumer goods), postal architecture (e.g. post offices, pillar boxes, phone booths) and telecommunication technology (e.g. communication equipment, undersea cables). The engineering division viewed ‘design coordination’ as a matter of styling and aesthetic expression and thus an impediment to functional necessity. They could not conceive of the notion that a central coordinated approach would increase Fig. 1 Overhead view of the October 1962 exhibition ‘A House Style for Post Offices’, mounted at the Fleet Building, Farringdon Road, London. Note Rose’s full Clarendon alphabet on display in the upper right. Image © Royal Mail Group 2017, courtesy of The Postal Museum. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 efficiencies by eliminating the duplication of products fabricated by the wide range of contract suppliers and with slight adjustments, components may be made to be inter- changeable. This animosity to the notion of a design panel is all the more ironic since there were numerous instances when products had to be redesigned and refabricated at the last minute because they were not compatible with products made by other manufacturers. What began as an attempt to coordinate the design of architecture and the manu- facturing of industrial design products, soon expanded to include two-dimensional matters. O’Brien asked Reilly to provide a list of recommended designers for the initial survey’s consideration. Reilly’s recommendations included Stuart Rose, Milner Gray (of the DRU) and F.H.K. Henrion. Rose was already working for the GPO as a typographic consultant, but he had significantly less experience with matters of three-dimensional design than the other two contenders. Both O’Brien and Savage favoured the appoint- ment of Milner Gray, stating that ‘he is very tactful and in any discussions with Post Office people and in proposals he would make afterwards he would undoubtedly avoid upsetting people. This might not hold good of Henrion who is a very dogmatic and sometimes difficult person.’ , Director General Ronald German presented all three names to Mr Benn but disagreed with O’Brien and Savage and added a new twist for Benn’s consideration: Gray’s firm, the DRU, was currently in the news as a result of their redesign of the British Rail identity, and so the selection of Gray might appear to the public as an endorsement of the upheaval and public outrage caused by Richard Beeching, the first Chairperson of the British Railways Board, whose 1963 report, The Reshaping of British Railways, had identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of railway line for closure (cuts known as ‘The Beeching Axe’), amounting to 55% of stations and 30% of route miles. Benn had his own plans for modernizing the GPO’s structure and Gray posed too great a political risk for a junior politician; as a result he endorsed Henrion. Henrion’s first contract: the survey report Frederick Henri Kay Henrion (more commonly known by his initials, F.H.K. Henrion) was given a one-year consulting contract which was to result in a report of GPO activities to be potentially affected by a design coordinating unit. Henrion had con- siderable experience in the area of what we now call corporate identity design or branding. By 1964, his new design for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had earned both praise and extensive recognition. His manual for KLM included application guidelines for numerous media from aircraft, automobiles, signage, uniforms, equipment, sta- tionery to cutlery and glassware for first class. A press release dated 26 January 1965 announced Henrion’s appointment and included a biographical note that described his duties as ‘consultant to make a survey of all aspects of design in the Post Office with the intention of recommending ways and means of coordinating design and methods of achieving the highest design standards in every field’. Henrion’s initial appointment required him to assess the needs of the GPO, which included postal, telecommunications, engineering and banking divisions, and based upon the survey’s outcomes and subsequent recommendations, the GPO would solicit a firm to design its new ‘house style’. The GPO was looking to present a new image to the public fol- lowing the very successful rebranding campaigns of the Canadian National Railway (1960) and British Rail (1964) whose new logo designs visually communicated a sense of modernity and progressiveness [2]. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 2 (left to right) Canadian National Railways logo 1954. Image © Canadian National Railway Company 2017, courtesy of Canadian National Railway Company; Canadian National Railways logo 1960. Image © Canadian National Railway Company 2017, courtesy of Canadian National Railway Company; British Railways logo, 1948, attributed to Abram Games. The lion and wheel logo was used on train carriages and locomotive engines. It was not used on printed materials or vehicles. Image © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library. All rights reserved. Image drawn by the author; British Rail logo, 1965, Gerry Barney of Design Research Unit, designer. Reproduced with permission. © Secretary of State for Transport 2017, courtesy of Department for Transport; GPO logo, 1953, Stuart Rose, designer. This logo was unveiled to coincide with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Image © Royal Mail Group 2017. Image drawn by the author; Henrion’s proposal for the new Post Office logo in 1967. FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives, by permission of the Henrion estate. Image drawn by the author. Postal mail was only one of the GPO’s many public responsibilities. The GPO had a monopoly over telecommunications—telegraphs and telephones—in the UK, and the name ‘General Post Office’ was hardly reflective of the scope of its involvement with the developing communications industry. Its telecommunication division was making significant investments in post-war technological development. The 1960s saw the introduction of satellite communications, overseas telecommunication cables, advances in computer technology, and an increase in overall industrialization, among many other developments. And as a government service, it was very important for the GPO to extend telephone access to as wide a public as possible. Five months after Henrion’s appointment, copies of his pilot survey report were cir- culated among the Board, detailing the scope of design work required for a unified house style as well as a recommendation to revise the structure of the GPO to include a Design Panel with powers of oversight. An effective ‘house style’ or brand identity requires commitment and consistency throughout an organization. At the time, design- ers were hired by the various contractors commissioned by the GPO. This arrangement meant that the designer was answerable to the contractor, not the GPO. To add to the disarray, during the course of his pilot survey, Henrion determined that about 120 Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 20 people had decision-making authority over nearly a thousand design products. So while a new design identity would be the most visible outcome for the public, Henrion understood that the organization required an internal control mechanism such as a design management committee to implement and maintain the consistent, effective use of a visual identity. One of Henrion’s recommendations proposed the creation of a design oversight committee or ‘Design Panel’, which consisted of a full-time Design Administrator and half-time Coordinating Designer, as well as the Postmaster General, Director General, Engineer in Chief, Director of Public Relations and representatives from the Medical Research Council (for matters which required ergonomic input), the trade unions, the MPBW, and the CoID. Most controversial was the position of the half-time Coordinating Designer. It is not known why Henrion chose to recommend a half-time rather than full time position. His survey results may have suggested to him that the position only required the reduced services of a designer since the Public Relations Department, which carried out graphic design and marketing work for the GPO, would essentially remain unaffected by his proposed new structure. Regardless, this suggestion proved to be a significant liability for his proposal. At a meeting of the PO Board on 8 July 1965, O’Brien was asked to send a copy of Henrion’s proposal to Reilly at the CoID for review. The direct participation of a professional association in a corporate (or in this case, a public) organization may seem odd by today’s standards but the expertise provided by the CoID was not as widely available in the design profession as it is today. Henrion himself was a past president of Society of Industrial Designers and Artists (SIDA) and was aware of their involvement in the redesign of the British Rail identity, which required reconsider- ation of many different products, from locomotives to carriage seating, through to uniforms and tableware. The CoID was actively engaged with promoting the ben- efits of design in manufacturing. But Reilly’s response to Henrion’s brief was not a blanket endorsement. Reilly disagreed with the report on a number of counts, but none was to have as great a negative effect as his interpretation that Henrion had recommended a half time appointed Coordinating Designer so that Henrion himself could take up the position. Reilly’s letter was addressed to O’Brien, which he in turn shared with his immediate subordinate Savage, whose response to O’Brien was somewhat caustic: I agree largely with Paul Reilly about Henrion’s idea of machinery. I have never felt that a PO design administrator with an outside part-time overall consultant would work. If you remember in para 6 of my note (flag A) I foresaw that Henrion would try to work in such a part time consultancy for himself. The suspicion voiced by Savage may in part be attributed to a certain amount of job insecurity. After all, the Public Relations Department was responsible for producing GPO advertising and marketing materials, and Savage most certainly would have felt his position would be affected by a new ‘Design Panel’ with oversight decision making authority. Nearly a month later, Reilly would follow his initial assessment with a retraction which precipitated Savage to respond with further resentment: It is a pity that Henrion has apparently persuaded Reilly to change his mind. Of course it is all important for Henrion that we should create a vacancy for an out- side design consultant. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 The doubts voiced by O’Brien and Savage would continue to dog Henrion’s interactions with the GPO. As Chief Public Relations Director, O’Brien served as Henrion’s contact at the GPO as well as the representative for the Office of the Deputy Director General (Posts), Alan Wolstencroft. But he also represented Henrion to the Post Office Board in matters concerning the design’s progress, and based on Board meeting minutes, one can only assume that he was not the strongest advocate on behalf of Henrion’s efforts. Correspondence between O’Brien and Henrion was generally cordial, but there are instances of some rather terse responses from O’Brien. At the same PO Board meeting of 8 July 1965, O’Brien was also asked to contact the British Railways Board and ‘find out what they are doing in the field of Design, the organization they had for coping with it, and how successful it had been, and to report his findings to the Board’. The response of British Rail’s Director of Industrial Design, George Williams, who was the leading figure overseeing the implementation of the new British Rail identity, is rather ironic. Williams’ letter emphasized the support of senior management: ‘Much, of course, depends on the determination and support of top management. Without this one can hardly expect rapid progress’. Yet this affirm- ing statement from Williams—which would have supported Henrion’s recommenda- tions—does not seem to have been put before the Post Office Board. Instead, minutes from the PO Board meeting the following month note that Director General Ronald German had spoken with Williams the day before the meeting, and German presented the Board with the following points taken from their conversation: i) it was essential for top management to take an active interest in design; ii) only a small staff was required but it needed a full-time professional designer at its head; iii) British Railways had found that the most successful means of changing an image were: a) a new symbol; b) a common font for all publications and notices; c) a new house colour These points seem rather straightforward and sensible, but in fact complications would arise almost immediately. At the time, the GPO consisted of four distinct divisions: mail services, telecommunications, engineering, and banking, with a possible fifth to be launched as a national giro service. Management’s ‘active interest in design’ trans- lated into the Board voting to reject the idea of reorganizing the management struc- ture to accommodate a Design Panel, and granting each respective Deputy Director General the responsibility over design in his own division. The Board’s decision to allow Deputy Directors to retain individual control over design matters effectively ren- dered any attempt at coordination largely an academic exercise: achieving a coordi- nated house style would prove next to impossible. The contract to design a ‘house style’ Following the survey report, the GPO’s next task was to select a design firm to develop the unified house style. Two of the same design firms considered for the initial sur - vey were considered for the commission: Henrion Design Associates and the Design Research Unit. The DRU was the firm behind the successful redesign for British Rail, which was also a leading concern of the GPO. While the PO Board was conscious of Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 appearing to favour Henrion because he was already familiar with their needs, the Board rather naïvely assumed that the DRU would simply provide a reworked version of the design completed for British Rail: ‘to employ the DRU involved a clear risk that they would merely repeat what they had done for the Railways but equally not much was known about the strength of Henrion’s organization’. A studio visit to Henrion’s offices by both O’Brien and Savage provided sufficient reassurance that Henrion would have the capability to successfully complete the task. In his letter to the Deputy Director Wolstencroft recommending Henrion, O’Brien observed ‘about eight designers work- ing there and in addition he has an engineering designer and an architect working as associates’. With agreement from the Postmaster General Anthony Wedgwood Benn, Henrion was awarded the commission at a PO Board meeting on 12 November 1965. But the decision came with a number of caveats. Most significantly, the PO Board not only rejected the notion of a stand-alone design department, but left control in the hands of the respective divisions of Postal, Telecommunications, Engineering and Savings Bank. Among a number of motions passed by the PO Board, they ‘agreed that it was right for Deputy Directors General to have overall responsibility for design in their fields’. A year later, this independence would allow the Savings Bank Division to fully withdraw from participating in any design coordination following Henrion’s initial logo proposals [3]. In a sense, the autonomy of the respective departments was only a minor inconveni- ence. Henrion’s task was to design a new house style for the GPO and throughout his commission he maintained his focus on the job he had agreed to complete. Indeed, Henrion understood by then that the Post Office was very much an institution in a state of flux. By February 1966, Ronald German had grown intensely hostile to Anthony Wedgwood Benn’s efforts to reorganize the GPO. While the Telecom Division was prov- ing to be increasingly profitable, the Postal Division continued to lose money. Benn’s solution was to separate the GPO from the government and split it into two distinct Crown-owned corporations, which would ultimately give the postal division the free- dom to innovate. German feared that such a split would mean ‘second class’ status for the Postal Division while the Treasury feared the only recourse for a money-losing postal service would be to raise postage rates. In an article in Design, a trade maga- zine published by the CoID, Henrion acknowledged the difficulties he faced: ‘We must build in a facility for leap frogging—making short term design decisions which will be over ridden by long term planning before they are fully implemented’. To that end, Henrion attempted to build a certain amount of flexibility into the identity system. Ideally, logos for the separate divisions were to be implemented as a unified group, but Henrion understood that as an organization whose future was uncertain, only parts of the system might be executed. The scope of Henrion’s contract included the design of symbols, colours, lettering styles, and a review of ‘intelligibility and legibility of forms’ used by the GPO, to be undertaken in collaboration with the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit to ensure they were effective; as well as a full survey of mate- rials and products, e.g. telephone equipment, used and produced by the GPO [4]. But Henrion’s task was made more difficult in other ways. The GPO had a number of design initiatives already underway when it decided to revise its public image: exter- ior signage for postal offices—which used a new orange red colour recommended by Casson and Black —had been redesigned by the Ministry of Public Building and Works’ lead architect Eric Bedford and a contract for bulk purchase had been signed; industrial designer Stuart Mellor had been commissioned by Creed & Co. to design a new pillar box; work was underway on a new colour and design for the postal uniform David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 3 (left to right) The Post Office Savings Bank logo designed by Robert Gibbings in 1936. Reproduced with permission. Image © National Savings and Investments 2017. Image drawn by the author; Henrion’s proposal for the logo of the Post Office Savings Bank. Henrion’s proposal was almost immediately rejected and soon after, the Post Office Savings Division withdrew from participating in the branding exercise. FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives, by permission of the Henrion estate. by Hector Powe Ltd., the same firm which had supplied uniforms to the Royal Air Force during WWII; and perhaps most troublesome for Henrion, Stuart Rose, Typographic Advisor to the GPO, had redesigned the GPO logo in 1953 to coincide with the cor- onation of Queen Elizabeth II and was currently completing a modified version of Clarendon for GPO use [5]. The overlap between the respective job descriptions of Stuart Rose (as ‘Typographic Advisor’) and Henrion (as ‘Design Consultant’)—and the overlaps in their professional backgrounds—made for considerable friction. From the beginning, the slight differ- ences between their respective duties was a cause for concern, not only for Henrion but for the Post Office Board as well. Stuart Rose initially worked as a graphics advisor for the GPO, following in the footsteps of Francis Meynell, Honorary Typographic Advisor and printer of the Nonesuch Press. Meynell was hired in the late 1950s to redesign a number of postal forms. Rose had been working on a freelance contract for the GPO since 1962 and his contract as Typographic Advisor would not expire until September 44 45 1966. Rose was the designer of the GPO logo currently in use, and like Henrion, he was a past president of SIDA. In a significant ironic twist, Rose had worked with the DRU team on the Knightsbridge post office prototype in 1961 [5] and was also part of the management team of the DRU, the other firm which had been seriously consid- ered for the house style commission. In any normal professional circumstances, the successful appointee of a design commission would not be required to work with the competitor who had lost the bid, especially when the competitor was also the designer of the logo one was hired to replace. Rose was indignant and openly hostile. In a letter written to German, O’Brien revealed the depths of Rose’s resentment toward Henrion’s appointment: The situation is of course made more difficult because Stuart Rose feels that in accordance with the ethics of the Society of Industrial Artists Henrion should Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 4 Visual identity matrix originally prepared by Henrion. Henrion aligned the visual elements associated with the respective divisions. The complexity of Henrion’s task is made apparent by the overlap of the Post Office division with Telecom and Engineering divisions, all three divisions share duties. Note the shared use of the Royal Crown among three divisions. Image © University of Brighton Design Archives 2017, courtesy of the FHK Henrion Archive. Fig. 5 (left to right) Post Office in South Molton Street, Mayfair, London, 1960. This is one of three examples of experimental modernised branch post offices in London designed by Misha Black and the Design Research Unit in association with Sir Hugh Casson. In a nod to modern aesthetics, the South Molton Street and Ludgate Circus prototypes used a rather handsome, slightly condensed sans serif similar to DIN; 55 Knightsbridge Post Office, London, 1961. Instead of the sans serif typeface used at the other two post office prototypes, the signage at in fact have refused the appointment because he was aware that Stuart Rose’s Knightsbridge was designed appointment as Typographical Advisor to the Post Office covered a very large part by Ronald Armstrong of the of the field in which Henrion would be operating. DRU and used Stuart Rose’s modified version of Clarendon, Of course, Rose’s resentment makes no sense given that such overlap in duties would resulting in a rather dowdy—if have occurred had any other designer—including the DRU—been awarded the con- not outright regressive —public tract. A month into Henrion’s design contract, a meeting between Henrion and Rose statement. Images © RIBA Collections 2017, courtesy John was arranged on 14 January 1966 to work out their respective differences. Henrion Maltby/RIBA Collections. suggested lines of demarcation which should have been agreeable to everyone, but O’Brien wished to discuss the matter among the three of them. And while the meet- ing was on the surface, cordial, tensions between the two persisted. As the outsider, Henrion was ultimately shut out of many design decisions that involved Rose and the Public Relations Department. In addition to the task of conveying a sense of ‘progressiveness’ via a new house style to the general public—a rather abstract undertaking—Henrion had some very prac- tical objectives. He suggested the use of red for postal vehicles and yellow for the David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 telecom and engineering divisions. At the time, red was already in use for the Post Office and a dark forest green was used for Telecom vans. This represented a safety issue for Telecom vans because they were often parked at the side of the road when making repairs. When it came to the typographic choices, Henrion placed an emphasis on legibility. While Rose’s choice of Clarendon reflected a British heritage compared to Helvetica’s Swiss roots, Helvetica is, overall, a more legible typeface: it has more open counterforms, a greater x-height, and its lack of serifs allow a tighter ‘fitting’ of the letters which in turn allows for an increased point size. Henrion would prod- uce a number of logo mock-ups using both Helvetica and Rose’s Clarendon for the Board’s review. Seen with the proposed new symbol, Helvetica’s rather straightforward, unadorned lines stood up rather well, while Clarendon was immediately revealed to be a poor design companion. In order to make the letters (the ‘logotype’) align with the logo itself, letters typeset in Clarendon had to be reduced in size and the typography comes across as ‘fussy’, brittle, and anaemic [6]. One of the very few recorded reactions to the proposed logo design can be found in a memo written by Frank Savage and addressed to O’Brien. Savage is overly dismissive to a point which borders on the absurd: The suggested symbol has no significance in terms of either postal or telecommu- nications service. By that I mean the Brit Railway symbol is a pair of line points, BEA a speed bird etc. Henrion’s ‘cross’ has no visual meaning at all. Obviously Savage refused to connect Henrion’s proposal with the British flag, the Union Jack, which was in fact a fitting reference for the postal service as a nationalized indus- try, one which connected the disparate regions of the United Kingdom. One may infer a certain amount of job insecurity from Savage’s comments, but they also suggest difficulty with abstraction or the non-representational nature of modernist design, an aspect of modernism which was only just beginning to gain acceptance in popular as well as corporate culture: Fig. 6 (left to right) As a concession to the GPO’s investment in Stuart Rose’s modified Clarendon typeface, Henrion had mock-ups made to allow the Post Office Board to compare designs using his proposed Helvetica against Rose’s Clarendon. Images © University of Brighton Design Archives 2017, courtesy of the FHK Henrion Archive. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 I am also a little worried over Henrion’s crown with the association of Royal mail. Will Her Majesty approve of his stylization of her crown. I would imagine when she gave her approval for its continued use she thought in terms of the Crown she approved when she came to the crown. After all it is one thing for [the soft drinks producer] Corona to produce their own crown, but we are the Royal Mail. Overall, internal memos and minutes from Post Office Board meetings paint a picture of a very decentralized, fairly obstinate organization. The five divisions of the GPO were allowed to operate with considerable independence, often with conflicting goals. Nearing the end of his two-year contract, Henrion was scheduled to make a compre- hensive presentation to the PMG and members of the Board in July 1967. But at the last minute, the PMG was no longer available and the meeting was rescheduled for October and subsequently rescheduled again for 16 November 1967. In the meantime, correspondence shows that the Post Office was now open to the notion of a Design Panel. In a memo dated 11 August 1967, the Deputy Director of Public Relations, Frank Savage, drew up a suggested composition of the Design panel and outlined members’ respective responsibilities. It was a small victory for Henrion, but it would come too late to have any bearing on his efforts. Final outcomes and ae ft rmath Henrion’s efforts were to prove to be for naught. A very short memo from M. Morris, Personal Secretary to PMG Edward Short, dated 16 January 1968, marked an unequivocal end to the exercise when Morris noted that all house style decisions should be deferred until the new crown corporation structure was in place. An indication of what must have been a point of frustration for Henrion is found in what is almost an insignificant notation. Shortly before his contract was to expire in December 1967, Henrion provided the GPO with a final report which transcribed his full activities. Among the rather dry details, Henrion accounts for his fee by recording 3036 hours invoiced, 668 hours not invoiced, and 198 meetings with records of the persons present at the respective meet- ings. However, in the course of the two years of his contract, only one meeting was with the full Post Office Board—the individuals who were to decide the fate of his recom- mendations. And to add to the irony, at that same July meeting, the Post Office Board decided not to extend Henrion’s contract once it expired on 15 December 1967. Without access to the actual decision-makers who would ultimately determine the fate of Henrion’s recommendations, and without an internal champion to shepherd his design by either amicable means or sheer force of will, Henrion’s design proposal essentially languished: Benn left the PMG position mid-exercise to become Minister of Technology, and the new PMG Edward Short had little interest in a new coordi- nated corporate image in the face of a pending new corporate structure for the GPO, thereby rendering a need for a unified identity moot. And in 1968, Stuart Rose was promoted to Design Director to serve the postal and giro units of the new public cor- poration, where he advanced his own vision for the Post Office’s house style [7]. In the same year his contract ended, Henrion and his design partner Alan Parkin published Design Coordination and Corporate Image, one of the first books to take up the study of corporate branding. And in what may be interpreted as a parting criticism of the GPO’s recalcitrance, on the leaf facing the half title, Henrion included a number of quotations from the International Design Congress: Profit by Design, a gathering organized by the ColD and held in London in October 1966. Included among them is a comment from David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 7 (left to right) GPO logos: 1934, MacDonald Gill, designer; 1953, Stuart Rose, designer; 1967, Stuart Rose, designer; 1969, Stuart Rose(?), designer. Reproduced with permission. Images © Royal Mail Group 2017. Images drawn by the author. former PMG and then Minister of Technology Anthony Wedgwood Benn, who stated, ‘Top Management must accept designers as an integral part of the production team. Too many managers still think of designers as people you bring in at the end’. Immediately follow- ing Benn’s statement is one by Traugott Malzan, Head of the Information Department at Braun AG, ‘A company that makes only a halfhearted attempt at good design, without the full support of top management, might well lose its shirt’. In this way, Henrion was able to perhaps express what his sense of professionalism otherwise prevented him from doing. Eventually, Henrion’s recommendation that an internal design committee be estab- lished to oversee all aspects of design came to fruition in 1970. It is important to recognize that as a governmental department, the GPO subscribed to different cultural mores to those of a stand-alone (public or private) corporation. Civil servants viewed the GPO as a public service, one which was above the tawdry pursuit of marketing and the Darwinian aggressions of competition. Modernizing the GPO to meet the needs of an industrialized and competitive marketplace required significant structural change that the organization—unlike British Rail—was not prepared to make. So while a new house style or corporate identity might present the image of a modern institution to the public, the fact remains that true efficiency cannot be simply window dressing. David Cabianca Associate Professor, Department of Design, School of the Arts, Media, Performance, & Design, York University, Toronto, Canada E-mail: cabianca@yorku.ca David Cabianca completed an undergraduate degree in architectural studies at the University of Manitoba and a Master of Architecture degree from Princeton University (1995). This was followed by an MFA 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art (2001); an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (2005); and most recently, an MA in Design Writing Criticism, London College of Communication (2012). Initially designed while attending Reading, his typeface Cardea was released by Emigre Fonts in 2014. In 2012, he was one of the organizers of the AIGA Design Educators Conference, ‘Blunt: Explicit and Graphic Design Criticism Now’. His writing has appeared in Emigre, Idea, Visible Language and Design Observer. He has taught at the University of Manitoba, University of Michigan, OCAD University, CalArts and Cranbrook Academy of Art and has held a full-time position teaching graphic design at York University in Toronto, Canada since 2005. Acknowledgements: I wish to thank Marion Wesel-Henrion for her kind suggestions and the staff at The BT Archive, the University of Brighton Design Archives and The British Postal Museum & Archive for their patience and invaluable assistance in completing this research. Research funding was provided by York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 prototypes. These were completed in 1960 and 1961. Notes Details of this early attempt to present a unified modern 1 Duncan Campbell-Smith, Masters of the Post: The house style for the Post Office are outlined in a special Authorized History of the Royal Mail (London: Allen Lane issue of Design magazine: Design: GPO Special Feature, 2011), 438–487. 173 (1963): 33–55. In a series of articles written by David Wainwright, this issue includes individual reviews of the 2 Anthony Wedgwood Benn inherited the title Viscount GPO’s attempts to modernize architecture, graphics, street Stansgate following the death of his father. The title auto- furniture, telephones, experimental counters as well as an matically made him a member of the British House of Lords; interview with Director General Ronald German. however, membership of the Upper Chamber meant Benn would not be permitted to remain a Member of Parliament 6 Timeline of events, ‘Post Office “Design Unit”‘. n.d. [type- within the House of Commons and so he renounced his set memo] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events peerage on 31 July 1963, the day the Peerage Act passed leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. into law and made it possible for him to do so. Leslie Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling Hale, ‘Benn, William Wedgwood, first Viscount Stansgate House. (1877–1960)’, rev. Mark Pottle, in Oxford Dictionary of 7 Toby O’Brien, GPO memo to R.  German, 5 June 1963. National Biography, ed. H.Colin G.  Matthew and Brian [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Harrison, OUP, Oxford, 2004; online ed., ed. Lawrence Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Goldman, January 2008, <www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling library.yorku.ca/view/article/30705> accessed 4 July 2015. House. 3 ‘In the 1960s, generally only the more affluent, salaried 8 William Ryland, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 5 February 1963. employees had bank accounts. Payment of wages in cash [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. was the norm. Cheque accounts were more likely to be Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. held by businesses than the man in the street. For send- Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling ing payments by post, Postal Orders were widely used. House. The National Giro system was set up by the Post Office in 1968 as an initiative of the Labour government to provide 9 J.N. White, Letter to T. O’Brien, 31 July 1963. [typeset let- banking facilities for those people who did not have bank ter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events lead- accounts’. John Chenery, National Giro <www.lightstraw. ing to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. co.uk/gpo/giro/index.html> accessed 27 December 2011. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. O’Brien, GPO memo to R. German, 31 July 1964. [typeset 4 Prior to his appointment as Postmaster General, and four months before the coming election, Benn wrote an opin- letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events lead- ing to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. ion piece for The Guardian newspaper, suggesting that the Post Office should be spun off as a ‘self-funding’ enter - London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. prise, i.e. a crown corporation, rather than being a gov- 10 O’Brien, Letter to P.  Reilly, 13 November 1964. [typeset ernment department dependent on public funding. It was letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events lead- this column which caught the eye of Prime Minister Harold ing to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. Wilson, leading him to appoint Benn to the position of London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. PMG. Anthony Wedgwood Benn MP, ‘The Post Office’, The 11 Paul Reilly, Letter to T. O’Brien, 20 November 1964. [type- Guardian, 19 June 1964, 22. In fact, the Director General, set letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events Ronald German, was not averse to the notion of spinning leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. off the Post Office to a crown owned corporation, but Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling he was steadfastly against splitting the various divisions. House. It was German—to his later regret—who had hired the American management consultants McKinsey & Company 12 Please note: in order to better reflect the mannerisms and to study the possibility of reorganizing the GPO into a pub- attitudes that were prevalent at the time, the endnotes in licly held utility. Ian Aitken, ‘The Post, Phones, and Savings this paper often include direct quotations from archived Bank May Be Separated’, The Guardian, 6 July 1965, 1; correspondence materials. O’Brien, Letter to R. German, 24 Campbell-Smith, 438.) November 1964. [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events leading to Appointment of Design 5 Ernest Marples (PMG 17 January 1957–14 October 1959, Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail succeeded by Reginald Bevins, PMG 14 October 1959–18 Archive, Freeling House. A month later, O’Brien reinforces October 1964)  commissioned Hugh Casson and Misha his negative view of Henrion with a further memo to the Black to redesign the London offices of South Molton Director General: ‘In fact as you probably know he is a very Street, Knightsbridge, and Ludgate Circus as modern David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 cantankerous person although a very good designer. What When all the inquiries and studies are completed, it will worries me above everything else is that if he is appointed be necessary for us to make big changes ourselves’. Benn, he may well alienate a great many people in the Post Office quoted in ‘Changes coming in GPO’, The Guardian, 10 and consequently design in the Post Office instead of tak- May 1966, 7. ing a very reasonable step forward may be set back quite 19 O’Brien, GPO memo to R.  German, 3 June 1965. [type- a bit.’ O’Brien, Letter to R.  German, 31 December 1964. set letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Freeling House. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling 20 Frederick H.K. Henrion and Alan Parkin, ‘Visual Design for House. Telecommunications’, Post Office Telecoms Journal, 19–20 13 Ronald German, Letter to A.W. Benn, 5 January 1965. (1967–68): 33. [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. 21 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 14), 8 July 1965. Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. F.H.K. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. For a detailed report on the extensive pro- Freeling House. At the same meeting, O’Brien was asked to cess by which British Railways was undergoing a coordi- contact the British Railways Board and ‘find out what they nated effort at an integrated and rationalized design see are doing in the field of Design, the organization they had also Design: Railways Special Issue, 171 (1963). This special for coping with it, and how successful it had been, and to issue coincided with the exhibition New Designs for British report his findings to the Board’. Ironically, the Director of Railways organized by the CoID, 27 February–23 March Industrial Design, George Williams, who was the leading 1963, which celebrated the British government’s invest- figure overseeing the implementation of the new British ment in modernizing rail travel. Rail identity, emphasized the support of senior manage- 14 Anthony Wedgwood Benn, Handwritten response to ment: ‘Much, of course, depends on the determination R. German, 6 January 1965. [manuscript] PRD/W/21 (uncat- and support of top management. Without this one can alogued) Design Unit. Events leading to Appointment of hardly expect rapid progress’. George Williams, Letter to Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. London: GB 813 The T. O’Brien, 26 July 1965. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 15 Henrion (1914–1990) was born Heinrich Fritz Kohn in The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House.) Yet this endorse- Nuremberg, Germany, but after World War II broke out, ment from Williams—which would have supported and upon leaving Germany to study and then work in Paris, Henrion’s position—had little bearing on the Post Office he used a modified version, ‘Frederick Henri Kay Henrion’. Board’s mindset. Adrian Shaughnessy, FHK Henrion: The Complete Designer 22 For example, the CoID organized its first International (London: Unit Editions, 2013), 22. Design Congress in 1951, which was followed by simi- 16 ‘P.B.15: Post Office Appoints Design Consultant’, 26 lar congresses in 1956 and 1961. The congress meeting January 1965. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/ of 1966 was themed ‘Profit by Design’. The 1966 event Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The was divided into ‘Implications for Design of Technological Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. Innovation’ (concerning capital goods); ‘The Industrial Designer’s Role in Product Development’ (concerning light 17 A coordinated identity is not simply an exercise in manag- engineering and domestic appliances); and ‘Design and ing public opinion. The rationalizing of visual expression Marketing’ (focusing on consumer goods and services). As does have an impact on efficiency and cost savings, as an indication of how important the subject was to the gov- British Rail soon discovered: ‘Redesign of pocket timetables ernment, the keynote talk was delivered by Lord Brown, has saved the Railways Board “up to 40 per cent” in paper Minister of State, Board of Trade, who emphasized, ‘that and printing costs […] The new timetables are the work of Jock Kinneir in association with BR’s industrial design and product design is the forefront of the business battle. It certainly must be kept in the forefront of Britain’s battle for publicity departments’. Anon., ‘Redesign Saves Money for British Rail’, Design, 240 (1968):27. exports’. Design, 216 (1966): 15. 23 Reilly, Letter to T.  O’Brien, 20 July 1965. [typeset letter] 18 ‘If you look at the Post Office today and the Post Office of the future, it is obvious that we are in the middle of a Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. period of revolutionary change. In my view every organ- London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. In the letter held by the Royal Mail Archive, Reilly’s points isation, particularly one likely to be set in its ways, should from time to time engage in critical self-examination to of criticism have been underlined in red—one assumes by ensure it will equip itself to the challenge of the future. O’Brien. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 24 F.B. Savage, GPO memo to T.  O’Brien, 26 July 1965. 31 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 17), 8 September [manuscript] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. 1965. [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion POST 122/10304. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. [Emphasis in the original.] Archive, Freeling House. Commencing from September Savage here refers to a previous memo sent to O’Brien 1965, Deputy Director Generals included A.W.C. (William) which states ‘Henrion considers that as the Design Panel Ryland (Telecom) and Alan Wolstencroft (Posts). The Post decides policy the administrative function of producing Office Savings Bank was headed by Kenneth Anderson, the design should be performed by two people; a Design Comptroller and Accountant General under the direction Administrator and a Coordinating Designer (Henrion of the Home Office and the Exchequer, and the Engineering himself).’ Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, n.d. [manu- Division was headed by the Engineer-in-Chief. script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 32 However, much to the resentment of individuals in the 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Public Relations Department, PBenn wished to set aside Freeling House. the PO Board’s decision of 8 September 1965, and at 25 Memos exchanged nearly a year later between Savage the urging of Henrion in June 1966 recommended that and O’Brien verify this assumption. ‘[A]part from such a Design Coordinator position be established to work things as changes in publicity sites or vans in Post Office, with Henrion from within the Post Office. O’Brien, GPO etc. resulting from new layout or design and the use of memo to A.  Wolstencroft, 4 August 1966. [typeset let- new logos or symbols, I  imagine that we in the [Public ter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST Relations Department] must retain a freedom in the pro- 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, duction of all straight forward publicity material and Freeling House.) media’. Savage, GPO memo to T.  O’Brien, 25 February 33 Post Office Board, ‘Extract from the Minutes of the 18th 1966. [manuscript] Design in the Post Office/Henrion meeting (POB (65) 18)  held on 6 October 1965’. [type- Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal set minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. Mail Archive, Freeling House. Which was followed by POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, another note to O’Brien: ‘What I don’t want to have to Freeling House. do is to control artist’s designs, publicity art work and 34 O’Brien, GPO memo to A. Wolstencroft, 27 October 1965. type founts. While we of course must use the symbol [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. or logotypes design by Henrion to make an advertise- POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, ment or poster etc. clearly Post Office (as we do now). Freeling House. We must still retain freedom to get the right artwork and typography etc’. Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 35 The motion guaranteeing autonomy was restated verbatim 8 March 1966. [manuscript] Design in the Post Office/ in the minutes of the subsequent meeting of 8 September Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The 1965: POB (65) 80 and as late as n.d. November 1966: Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. POB (66) 89. [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/ Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The 26 Reilly, Letter to T. O’Brien, 17 August 1965. [typeset letter] Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. (Post Office Board, Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. ‘Extract from the Minutes of the 17th meeting (POB (65) 17) held on 8 September 1965’. [typeset minutes] Design in 27 Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 19 August 1965. [manu- the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House.) The PO 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Board’s reluctance to relinquish design control to a cen- Freeling House. tral design department was first hinted at during the 14th 28 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 14), 8 July 1965. meeting (POB (65) 14) held on 8 July 1965. At that meet- [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. ing, minutes indicate, ‘doubts also about the need for a POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Design Panel. It was felt that its functions could adequately Freeling House. be performed by the Post Office Board’. Henrion’s contract 29 Williams, Letter to T. O’Brien, 26 July 1965. [typeset letter] ran from 15 December 1965 to 15 December 1967, to be paid a total of 20,000 British guineas. Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. 36 While there is no evidence, the notion that the manage- 30 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 16), 5 August 1965. ment of the GPO did not want a design panel because they [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. feared that it would open the door to additional restruc- POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, turing of the GPO, i.e. a break from ministerial control and Freeling House. splitting of the various divisions, cannot be dismissed. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 37 Henrion, Quoted in David Wainwright, ‘Red Letter Days for the GPO in 1953 replaced Gill’s and was released to coin- the Post Office’, Design, 223 (1967): 34. cide with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 38 Henrion, Letter to T.  O’Brien, 28 October 1965, p.  1. 46 ‘Henrion [is] a past-President of SIDA, Rose the present [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. President. Who decides [sic] and which of them is right[?]’ POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 19 August 1965. [manu- Freeling House. script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, 39 See Wainwright, ‘GPO House style for offices’, op cit., 36. Freeling House. These ongoing commitments followed the work already completed on three prototype designs for modern post 47 In the exhibition catalogue accompanying Design Research offices (South Molton Street, Knightsbridge, and Ludgate Unit 1942–72, Rose’s name appears in a list of ‘Members Circus) completed between 1960 and 1961. and Associates of the Design Research Unit 1944–69’. Next to his name are the title ‘Design Administrator’ and 40 See Wainwright, ‘GPO House style for offices’, op cit., the dates ‘1964–68’. Michelle Cotton, Design Research 33–55. And in a letter to Henrion, Eric Bedford makes it Unit 1942–72 (London: Koenig Books, 2010), 118. clear that the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works was satisfied with its own colour choices and had already com- 48 Stuart Rose, Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, 6 January 1966. [type- mitted itself to ‘320 units which will make up into 40/50 set letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events Post Office fronts—and some £140,000 is involved’. leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. Bedford also makes it clear that MPBW has always been London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. involved in colour choices and the he expects this arrange- 49 O’Brien, GPO Minute to R.  German, 17 January 1966. ment to continue. Eric Bedford, Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. 19 July 1967. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/ POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Freeling House. Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. 50 ‘We also discussed the problem arising from Stuart Rose’s 41 O’Brien, Post Office Board minutes (65) 120, 12 November appointment as Typographical Advisor. […] It seemed to 1965, p.  2. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/ me that what you suggested as the lines of demarcation Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The should be agreeable to everyone but I  think it would be Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. useful to discuss this between the three of us’. O’Brien, 42 ‘May I  point out that any agreement has to be on both Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, 30 December 1965. [typeset sides and some of your suggestions were not agreeable to letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST Stuart Rose’. O’Brien, Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, 23 February 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, 1966. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Freeling House. Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail 51 ‘The situation is of course made more difficult because Archive, Freeling House.) Stuart Rose feels that in accordance with the ethics of 43 In 1958, in a move towards modern efficiency, the Post the Society of Industrial Artists Henrion should in fact Office adopted the DIN standard of paper measurement have refused the appointment because he was aware and hired Francis Meynell as a typographic consultant to that Stuart Rose’s appointment as Typographical Advisor redesign six forms. Meynell used Times Roman for forms to the Post Office covered a very large part of the field in printed in black type and Baskerville for forms printed in which Henrion would be operating’. O’Brien, GPO memo red. See Wainwright, ‘GPO House style for offices’, op cit., to R. German, 17 January 1966. [typeset letter] Design in 42. Because of their respective origins, Meynell’s typeface the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: choices may seem an appropriate choice for a British insti- GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. tution, but as serif typefaces they were hardly reflective of 52 In typographic parlance, a counterform refers to the nega- a modern ethos. ‘Baskerville’, in particular, is a typeface tive shapes created by the letters and between letters; which exudes an air of aristocratic tradition. x-height refers to the ratio between baseline or bottom 44 German, GPO minute to General Directorate, 7 January of a letter and the height of a lowercase ‘x’; and ‘fit- 1966. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion ting’ refers to the how close letters may be placed to one Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail another without inhibiting legibility. Archive, Freeling House. 53 Savage, GPO memo to T.  O’Brien, 13 July 1967. [manu- 45 The GPO’s first logo was designed in 1934 by map designer script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST MacDonald (‘Max’) Gill, brother of Eric Gill, the renowned 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, typeface designer and stonecutter. Stuart Rose’s design for Freeling House. On Henrion’s proposal to assign the colour Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 yellow to the Telecommunication Division and the name 58 Post Office Board, ‘Extract from the Minutes of the 6th itself, A.B. Harnden, Director London Telecommunications meeting. (POB (67) 6) held on 5 July 1967’. [typeset min- Region, noted, utes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, There is general acceptance that yellow is the right Freeling House. colour for vehicles, safety being the overwhelming consideration. 59 Benn was appointed Minister of Technology on 5 July There is no enthusiasm for orange as an alternative 1966. Before he left the position of PMG, he issued a to yellow, and little for it as an alternative to red. recommendation that Henrion should have full control I should hate it. over typography in spite of Rose’s continuing contract Two people who have seen the papers have com- as Typographic Advisor. In a letter to German—who was mented that ‘Tels’ is a horrible abbreviation: I think it at odds with Benn on a number of issues prior to his is a good abbreviation of a horrible word and I cannot departure—Wolstencroft hints that while Henrion may imagine that after a time it would provoke much ire. be granted the additional oversight he was requesting, his recommendations ultimately be dismissed: ‘I would A.B. Harnden, GPO Memo to T.  O’Brien, 26 June 1967. not of course envisage that Mr. Henrion would be pre- [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. sent during the Board’s discussion of the future place POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, of design in the Post Office’. Wolstencroft, August 9, Freeling House.) 1966. Letter to R.  German, Director General. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 54 Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 13 July 1967. [manuscript] 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. Freeling House. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. 60 T. Scott, 31 March 1967. Letter from the private secre- 55 Savage, ‘Design panel proposals by DDPR’, 11 August tary of E.  Short, Postmaster General, to F.H.K. Henrion. 1967. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Archive, Freeling House. Freeling House. 56 M. Morris, ‘Mr. Henrion’s Contract’, 16 January 1968. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. 61 Anon., ‘Postal post’, Design, 240 (1968, 27. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, 62 Benn, Quoted in: F.H.K. Henrion and A.  Parkin, Design Freeling House. coordination and corporate image (London: Studio Vista, 57 F.H.K. Henrion and Associates, Work done for the Post Office 1967), n.p. Jan. 1966 to Sept. 1967, F.H.K Henrion and Associates, 63 T. Malzan, Quoted in: ibid. London, 1967, 1. [typeset booklet] F.H.K. Henrion Archive, 64 Anon., Design, 261 (1970): 21. Box p. 3, Brighton: University of Brighton Design Archives. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Design History Oxford University Press

An Examination of the 1960s Attempt at a New Brand Identity for the General Post Office

Journal of Design History , Volume 31 (2): 17 – May 25, 2018

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author(s) [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Design History Society.
ISSN
0952-4649
eISSN
1741-7279
DOI
10.1093/jdh/epx026
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Abstract

doi:10.1093/jdh/epx026 An Examination of the 1960s Journal of Design History Vol. 31 No. 2 Attempt at a New Brand Identity for the General Post Office David Cabianca In 1965, the UK designer F.H.K. Henrion was commissioned by the General Post Office to survey the state of design within the organization. The survey report was to form the basis for commissioning a new corporate identity, or ‘house style’, intended to visually unify the various operational divisions of the GPO as well as cultivate the image of a modern and progressive public entity in the minds of the public. Ultimately, thanks to factors that actively or indirectly hampered his efforts, Henrion’s attempt to produce a new, modern identity would, in large part, collapse. While it is true many professional projects do not bear fruit, one does not typically have a detailed account of the factors which might lead an initiative to fail. In this instance, archival records present a tale of intransigence precipitated by career civil servants determined to secure their positions, the conscious obstruction of change because of professional jealousy, and an overall general ineptitude when strength of leadership was required. This paper uses records from client correspondence, PO Board minutes, and internal memos housed in the British Postal Museum to trace the development of Henrion’s efforts from the client’s perspective. Keywords: corporate identity—General Post Office (GPO)—branding—modernization— modernist typography—F.H.K. Henrion Introduction Established in 1517 as ‘The King’s Posts’, today’s Royal Mail has five hundred years of history and tradition behind it, but in the 1960s its culture of inertia made institu- tional change within the General Post Office (GPO) difficult if not impossible. Prior to 1 October 1969, the GPO was a government department led by the Postmaster General, a ministerial appointee selected by the British Prime Minister. Following the 1964 elec- tion, Prime Minister Harold Wilson appointed Anthony Wedgwood Benn as Postmaster General (PMG), a position he was to hold for twenty-one months, from October 1964 1 2 until July 1966. Despite his rather privileged background, Benn was a left-of-centre reformer and during his short tenure as PMG he sought to modernize the GPO by introducing a number of initiatives, including the creation of a national giro banking system, the issuing of postage stamps without an image of the Queen’s head and, most controversially, the removal of the GPO as a government department and its div- ision into separate Crown-owned corporations. Attempting to modernize the GPO was a long process, attempted by numerous PMGs over the course of their appointments. As early as 1959, the then PMG Ernest Marples © The Author(s) [2017]. Published had commissioned Sir Hugh Casson and Misha Black of the Design Research Unit (DRU) by Oxford University Press on in London and Liverpool architects Ormrod and Partners with W.L. Stevenson to con- behalf of The Design History ceive new experimental designs for post offices with the intent of using the designs as Society. All rights reserved. future templates. Marples’ commission was particularly unusual because, as a general Advance Access publication 23 August 2017 rule when a new post office was needed, the GPO provided a list of requirements Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 and the Ministry of Public Building and Works (MPBW) was charged with assigning the job to local architects who were given considerable autonomy. The outcome from Marples’ commissions was displayed in an exhibition titled ‘A House Style for Post Offices’, mounted at the GPO’s Fleet Building in London in October 1962 [1]. The exhibit brought together for the public various solutions for the design of store fronts, post office interiors, signage, modular systems of construction assembly, and a new Clarendon typeface for Post Office use. Although some elements did find their way into future post office use, the design exercise turned out to be, on the whole, prohibi- tively expensive yet it highlighted a need to coordinate building, industrial design, and what we recognize today as ‘corporate identity’ standards. While the plan to create an encompassing and organized house style under the control of an internal committee emerged slowly, the actual date can be traced to a memo of 25 May 1962, when Chief Public Relations Director Toby O’Brien charged his Deputy Director of Public Relations, Frank Savage, with investigating the notion of an internal Post Office Design Unit, responsible for coordinating design operations between the various departments of the GPO. Savage’s recommendations followed his consultation with the British Transport Commission (BTC) which had already established a Design Panel with a chief design officer and a staff of eight. Both Sir Gordon Russell, Design Advisor to the BTC, and Paul Reilly, Chairman of the Council of Industrial Design (CoID), recommended the creation of a design panel or design-coordinating unit. But the ini- tial enthusiasm expressed by the various GPO directors was soon tempered, following the outright hostility to the idea from the engineering division responsible for indus- trial products (e.g. consumer goods), postal architecture (e.g. post offices, pillar boxes, phone booths) and telecommunication technology (e.g. communication equipment, undersea cables). The engineering division viewed ‘design coordination’ as a matter of styling and aesthetic expression and thus an impediment to functional necessity. They could not conceive of the notion that a central coordinated approach would increase Fig. 1 Overhead view of the October 1962 exhibition ‘A House Style for Post Offices’, mounted at the Fleet Building, Farringdon Road, London. Note Rose’s full Clarendon alphabet on display in the upper right. Image © Royal Mail Group 2017, courtesy of The Postal Museum. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 efficiencies by eliminating the duplication of products fabricated by the wide range of contract suppliers and with slight adjustments, components may be made to be inter- changeable. This animosity to the notion of a design panel is all the more ironic since there were numerous instances when products had to be redesigned and refabricated at the last minute because they were not compatible with products made by other manufacturers. What began as an attempt to coordinate the design of architecture and the manu- facturing of industrial design products, soon expanded to include two-dimensional matters. O’Brien asked Reilly to provide a list of recommended designers for the initial survey’s consideration. Reilly’s recommendations included Stuart Rose, Milner Gray (of the DRU) and F.H.K. Henrion. Rose was already working for the GPO as a typographic consultant, but he had significantly less experience with matters of three-dimensional design than the other two contenders. Both O’Brien and Savage favoured the appoint- ment of Milner Gray, stating that ‘he is very tactful and in any discussions with Post Office people and in proposals he would make afterwards he would undoubtedly avoid upsetting people. This might not hold good of Henrion who is a very dogmatic and sometimes difficult person.’ , Director General Ronald German presented all three names to Mr Benn but disagreed with O’Brien and Savage and added a new twist for Benn’s consideration: Gray’s firm, the DRU, was currently in the news as a result of their redesign of the British Rail identity, and so the selection of Gray might appear to the public as an endorsement of the upheaval and public outrage caused by Richard Beeching, the first Chairperson of the British Railways Board, whose 1963 report, The Reshaping of British Railways, had identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of railway line for closure (cuts known as ‘The Beeching Axe’), amounting to 55% of stations and 30% of route miles. Benn had his own plans for modernizing the GPO’s structure and Gray posed too great a political risk for a junior politician; as a result he endorsed Henrion. Henrion’s first contract: the survey report Frederick Henri Kay Henrion (more commonly known by his initials, F.H.K. Henrion) was given a one-year consulting contract which was to result in a report of GPO activities to be potentially affected by a design coordinating unit. Henrion had con- siderable experience in the area of what we now call corporate identity design or branding. By 1964, his new design for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had earned both praise and extensive recognition. His manual for KLM included application guidelines for numerous media from aircraft, automobiles, signage, uniforms, equipment, sta- tionery to cutlery and glassware for first class. A press release dated 26 January 1965 announced Henrion’s appointment and included a biographical note that described his duties as ‘consultant to make a survey of all aspects of design in the Post Office with the intention of recommending ways and means of coordinating design and methods of achieving the highest design standards in every field’. Henrion’s initial appointment required him to assess the needs of the GPO, which included postal, telecommunications, engineering and banking divisions, and based upon the survey’s outcomes and subsequent recommendations, the GPO would solicit a firm to design its new ‘house style’. The GPO was looking to present a new image to the public fol- lowing the very successful rebranding campaigns of the Canadian National Railway (1960) and British Rail (1964) whose new logo designs visually communicated a sense of modernity and progressiveness [2]. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 2 (left to right) Canadian National Railways logo 1954. Image © Canadian National Railway Company 2017, courtesy of Canadian National Railway Company; Canadian National Railways logo 1960. Image © Canadian National Railway Company 2017, courtesy of Canadian National Railway Company; British Railways logo, 1948, attributed to Abram Games. The lion and wheel logo was used on train carriages and locomotive engines. It was not used on printed materials or vehicles. Image © National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library. All rights reserved. Image drawn by the author; British Rail logo, 1965, Gerry Barney of Design Research Unit, designer. Reproduced with permission. © Secretary of State for Transport 2017, courtesy of Department for Transport; GPO logo, 1953, Stuart Rose, designer. This logo was unveiled to coincide with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Image © Royal Mail Group 2017. Image drawn by the author; Henrion’s proposal for the new Post Office logo in 1967. FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives, by permission of the Henrion estate. Image drawn by the author. Postal mail was only one of the GPO’s many public responsibilities. The GPO had a monopoly over telecommunications—telegraphs and telephones—in the UK, and the name ‘General Post Office’ was hardly reflective of the scope of its involvement with the developing communications industry. Its telecommunication division was making significant investments in post-war technological development. The 1960s saw the introduction of satellite communications, overseas telecommunication cables, advances in computer technology, and an increase in overall industrialization, among many other developments. And as a government service, it was very important for the GPO to extend telephone access to as wide a public as possible. Five months after Henrion’s appointment, copies of his pilot survey report were cir- culated among the Board, detailing the scope of design work required for a unified house style as well as a recommendation to revise the structure of the GPO to include a Design Panel with powers of oversight. An effective ‘house style’ or brand identity requires commitment and consistency throughout an organization. At the time, design- ers were hired by the various contractors commissioned by the GPO. This arrangement meant that the designer was answerable to the contractor, not the GPO. To add to the disarray, during the course of his pilot survey, Henrion determined that about 120 Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 20 people had decision-making authority over nearly a thousand design products. So while a new design identity would be the most visible outcome for the public, Henrion understood that the organization required an internal control mechanism such as a design management committee to implement and maintain the consistent, effective use of a visual identity. One of Henrion’s recommendations proposed the creation of a design oversight committee or ‘Design Panel’, which consisted of a full-time Design Administrator and half-time Coordinating Designer, as well as the Postmaster General, Director General, Engineer in Chief, Director of Public Relations and representatives from the Medical Research Council (for matters which required ergonomic input), the trade unions, the MPBW, and the CoID. Most controversial was the position of the half-time Coordinating Designer. It is not known why Henrion chose to recommend a half-time rather than full time position. His survey results may have suggested to him that the position only required the reduced services of a designer since the Public Relations Department, which carried out graphic design and marketing work for the GPO, would essentially remain unaffected by his proposed new structure. Regardless, this suggestion proved to be a significant liability for his proposal. At a meeting of the PO Board on 8 July 1965, O’Brien was asked to send a copy of Henrion’s proposal to Reilly at the CoID for review. The direct participation of a professional association in a corporate (or in this case, a public) organization may seem odd by today’s standards but the expertise provided by the CoID was not as widely available in the design profession as it is today. Henrion himself was a past president of Society of Industrial Designers and Artists (SIDA) and was aware of their involvement in the redesign of the British Rail identity, which required reconsider- ation of many different products, from locomotives to carriage seating, through to uniforms and tableware. The CoID was actively engaged with promoting the ben- efits of design in manufacturing. But Reilly’s response to Henrion’s brief was not a blanket endorsement. Reilly disagreed with the report on a number of counts, but none was to have as great a negative effect as his interpretation that Henrion had recommended a half time appointed Coordinating Designer so that Henrion himself could take up the position. Reilly’s letter was addressed to O’Brien, which he in turn shared with his immediate subordinate Savage, whose response to O’Brien was somewhat caustic: I agree largely with Paul Reilly about Henrion’s idea of machinery. I have never felt that a PO design administrator with an outside part-time overall consultant would work. If you remember in para 6 of my note (flag A) I foresaw that Henrion would try to work in such a part time consultancy for himself. The suspicion voiced by Savage may in part be attributed to a certain amount of job insecurity. After all, the Public Relations Department was responsible for producing GPO advertising and marketing materials, and Savage most certainly would have felt his position would be affected by a new ‘Design Panel’ with oversight decision making authority. Nearly a month later, Reilly would follow his initial assessment with a retraction which precipitated Savage to respond with further resentment: It is a pity that Henrion has apparently persuaded Reilly to change his mind. Of course it is all important for Henrion that we should create a vacancy for an out- side design consultant. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 The doubts voiced by O’Brien and Savage would continue to dog Henrion’s interactions with the GPO. As Chief Public Relations Director, O’Brien served as Henrion’s contact at the GPO as well as the representative for the Office of the Deputy Director General (Posts), Alan Wolstencroft. But he also represented Henrion to the Post Office Board in matters concerning the design’s progress, and based on Board meeting minutes, one can only assume that he was not the strongest advocate on behalf of Henrion’s efforts. Correspondence between O’Brien and Henrion was generally cordial, but there are instances of some rather terse responses from O’Brien. At the same PO Board meeting of 8 July 1965, O’Brien was also asked to contact the British Railways Board and ‘find out what they are doing in the field of Design, the organization they had for coping with it, and how successful it had been, and to report his findings to the Board’. The response of British Rail’s Director of Industrial Design, George Williams, who was the leading figure overseeing the implementation of the new British Rail identity, is rather ironic. Williams’ letter emphasized the support of senior management: ‘Much, of course, depends on the determination and support of top management. Without this one can hardly expect rapid progress’. Yet this affirm- ing statement from Williams—which would have supported Henrion’s recommenda- tions—does not seem to have been put before the Post Office Board. Instead, minutes from the PO Board meeting the following month note that Director General Ronald German had spoken with Williams the day before the meeting, and German presented the Board with the following points taken from their conversation: i) it was essential for top management to take an active interest in design; ii) only a small staff was required but it needed a full-time professional designer at its head; iii) British Railways had found that the most successful means of changing an image were: a) a new symbol; b) a common font for all publications and notices; c) a new house colour These points seem rather straightforward and sensible, but in fact complications would arise almost immediately. At the time, the GPO consisted of four distinct divisions: mail services, telecommunications, engineering, and banking, with a possible fifth to be launched as a national giro service. Management’s ‘active interest in design’ trans- lated into the Board voting to reject the idea of reorganizing the management struc- ture to accommodate a Design Panel, and granting each respective Deputy Director General the responsibility over design in his own division. The Board’s decision to allow Deputy Directors to retain individual control over design matters effectively ren- dered any attempt at coordination largely an academic exercise: achieving a coordi- nated house style would prove next to impossible. The contract to design a ‘house style’ Following the survey report, the GPO’s next task was to select a design firm to develop the unified house style. Two of the same design firms considered for the initial sur - vey were considered for the commission: Henrion Design Associates and the Design Research Unit. The DRU was the firm behind the successful redesign for British Rail, which was also a leading concern of the GPO. While the PO Board was conscious of Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 appearing to favour Henrion because he was already familiar with their needs, the Board rather naïvely assumed that the DRU would simply provide a reworked version of the design completed for British Rail: ‘to employ the DRU involved a clear risk that they would merely repeat what they had done for the Railways but equally not much was known about the strength of Henrion’s organization’. A studio visit to Henrion’s offices by both O’Brien and Savage provided sufficient reassurance that Henrion would have the capability to successfully complete the task. In his letter to the Deputy Director Wolstencroft recommending Henrion, O’Brien observed ‘about eight designers work- ing there and in addition he has an engineering designer and an architect working as associates’. With agreement from the Postmaster General Anthony Wedgwood Benn, Henrion was awarded the commission at a PO Board meeting on 12 November 1965. But the decision came with a number of caveats. Most significantly, the PO Board not only rejected the notion of a stand-alone design department, but left control in the hands of the respective divisions of Postal, Telecommunications, Engineering and Savings Bank. Among a number of motions passed by the PO Board, they ‘agreed that it was right for Deputy Directors General to have overall responsibility for design in their fields’. A year later, this independence would allow the Savings Bank Division to fully withdraw from participating in any design coordination following Henrion’s initial logo proposals [3]. In a sense, the autonomy of the respective departments was only a minor inconveni- ence. Henrion’s task was to design a new house style for the GPO and throughout his commission he maintained his focus on the job he had agreed to complete. Indeed, Henrion understood by then that the Post Office was very much an institution in a state of flux. By February 1966, Ronald German had grown intensely hostile to Anthony Wedgwood Benn’s efforts to reorganize the GPO. While the Telecom Division was prov- ing to be increasingly profitable, the Postal Division continued to lose money. Benn’s solution was to separate the GPO from the government and split it into two distinct Crown-owned corporations, which would ultimately give the postal division the free- dom to innovate. German feared that such a split would mean ‘second class’ status for the Postal Division while the Treasury feared the only recourse for a money-losing postal service would be to raise postage rates. In an article in Design, a trade maga- zine published by the CoID, Henrion acknowledged the difficulties he faced: ‘We must build in a facility for leap frogging—making short term design decisions which will be over ridden by long term planning before they are fully implemented’. To that end, Henrion attempted to build a certain amount of flexibility into the identity system. Ideally, logos for the separate divisions were to be implemented as a unified group, but Henrion understood that as an organization whose future was uncertain, only parts of the system might be executed. The scope of Henrion’s contract included the design of symbols, colours, lettering styles, and a review of ‘intelligibility and legibility of forms’ used by the GPO, to be undertaken in collaboration with the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit to ensure they were effective; as well as a full survey of mate- rials and products, e.g. telephone equipment, used and produced by the GPO [4]. But Henrion’s task was made more difficult in other ways. The GPO had a number of design initiatives already underway when it decided to revise its public image: exter- ior signage for postal offices—which used a new orange red colour recommended by Casson and Black —had been redesigned by the Ministry of Public Building and Works’ lead architect Eric Bedford and a contract for bulk purchase had been signed; industrial designer Stuart Mellor had been commissioned by Creed & Co. to design a new pillar box; work was underway on a new colour and design for the postal uniform David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 3 (left to right) The Post Office Savings Bank logo designed by Robert Gibbings in 1936. Reproduced with permission. Image © National Savings and Investments 2017. Image drawn by the author; Henrion’s proposal for the logo of the Post Office Savings Bank. Henrion’s proposal was almost immediately rejected and soon after, the Post Office Savings Division withdrew from participating in the branding exercise. FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives, by permission of the Henrion estate. by Hector Powe Ltd., the same firm which had supplied uniforms to the Royal Air Force during WWII; and perhaps most troublesome for Henrion, Stuart Rose, Typographic Advisor to the GPO, had redesigned the GPO logo in 1953 to coincide with the cor- onation of Queen Elizabeth II and was currently completing a modified version of Clarendon for GPO use [5]. The overlap between the respective job descriptions of Stuart Rose (as ‘Typographic Advisor’) and Henrion (as ‘Design Consultant’)—and the overlaps in their professional backgrounds—made for considerable friction. From the beginning, the slight differ- ences between their respective duties was a cause for concern, not only for Henrion but for the Post Office Board as well. Stuart Rose initially worked as a graphics advisor for the GPO, following in the footsteps of Francis Meynell, Honorary Typographic Advisor and printer of the Nonesuch Press. Meynell was hired in the late 1950s to redesign a number of postal forms. Rose had been working on a freelance contract for the GPO since 1962 and his contract as Typographic Advisor would not expire until September 44 45 1966. Rose was the designer of the GPO logo currently in use, and like Henrion, he was a past president of SIDA. In a significant ironic twist, Rose had worked with the DRU team on the Knightsbridge post office prototype in 1961 [5] and was also part of the management team of the DRU, the other firm which had been seriously consid- ered for the house style commission. In any normal professional circumstances, the successful appointee of a design commission would not be required to work with the competitor who had lost the bid, especially when the competitor was also the designer of the logo one was hired to replace. Rose was indignant and openly hostile. In a letter written to German, O’Brien revealed the depths of Rose’s resentment toward Henrion’s appointment: The situation is of course made more difficult because Stuart Rose feels that in accordance with the ethics of the Society of Industrial Artists Henrion should Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 4 Visual identity matrix originally prepared by Henrion. Henrion aligned the visual elements associated with the respective divisions. The complexity of Henrion’s task is made apparent by the overlap of the Post Office division with Telecom and Engineering divisions, all three divisions share duties. Note the shared use of the Royal Crown among three divisions. Image © University of Brighton Design Archives 2017, courtesy of the FHK Henrion Archive. Fig. 5 (left to right) Post Office in South Molton Street, Mayfair, London, 1960. This is one of three examples of experimental modernised branch post offices in London designed by Misha Black and the Design Research Unit in association with Sir Hugh Casson. In a nod to modern aesthetics, the South Molton Street and Ludgate Circus prototypes used a rather handsome, slightly condensed sans serif similar to DIN; 55 Knightsbridge Post Office, London, 1961. Instead of the sans serif typeface used at the other two post office prototypes, the signage at in fact have refused the appointment because he was aware that Stuart Rose’s Knightsbridge was designed appointment as Typographical Advisor to the Post Office covered a very large part by Ronald Armstrong of the of the field in which Henrion would be operating. DRU and used Stuart Rose’s modified version of Clarendon, Of course, Rose’s resentment makes no sense given that such overlap in duties would resulting in a rather dowdy—if have occurred had any other designer—including the DRU—been awarded the con- not outright regressive —public tract. A month into Henrion’s design contract, a meeting between Henrion and Rose statement. Images © RIBA Collections 2017, courtesy John was arranged on 14 January 1966 to work out their respective differences. Henrion Maltby/RIBA Collections. suggested lines of demarcation which should have been agreeable to everyone, but O’Brien wished to discuss the matter among the three of them. And while the meet- ing was on the surface, cordial, tensions between the two persisted. As the outsider, Henrion was ultimately shut out of many design decisions that involved Rose and the Public Relations Department. In addition to the task of conveying a sense of ‘progressiveness’ via a new house style to the general public—a rather abstract undertaking—Henrion had some very prac- tical objectives. He suggested the use of red for postal vehicles and yellow for the David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 telecom and engineering divisions. At the time, red was already in use for the Post Office and a dark forest green was used for Telecom vans. This represented a safety issue for Telecom vans because they were often parked at the side of the road when making repairs. When it came to the typographic choices, Henrion placed an emphasis on legibility. While Rose’s choice of Clarendon reflected a British heritage compared to Helvetica’s Swiss roots, Helvetica is, overall, a more legible typeface: it has more open counterforms, a greater x-height, and its lack of serifs allow a tighter ‘fitting’ of the letters which in turn allows for an increased point size. Henrion would prod- uce a number of logo mock-ups using both Helvetica and Rose’s Clarendon for the Board’s review. Seen with the proposed new symbol, Helvetica’s rather straightforward, unadorned lines stood up rather well, while Clarendon was immediately revealed to be a poor design companion. In order to make the letters (the ‘logotype’) align with the logo itself, letters typeset in Clarendon had to be reduced in size and the typography comes across as ‘fussy’, brittle, and anaemic [6]. One of the very few recorded reactions to the proposed logo design can be found in a memo written by Frank Savage and addressed to O’Brien. Savage is overly dismissive to a point which borders on the absurd: The suggested symbol has no significance in terms of either postal or telecommu- nications service. By that I mean the Brit Railway symbol is a pair of line points, BEA a speed bird etc. Henrion’s ‘cross’ has no visual meaning at all. Obviously Savage refused to connect Henrion’s proposal with the British flag, the Union Jack, which was in fact a fitting reference for the postal service as a nationalized indus- try, one which connected the disparate regions of the United Kingdom. One may infer a certain amount of job insecurity from Savage’s comments, but they also suggest difficulty with abstraction or the non-representational nature of modernist design, an aspect of modernism which was only just beginning to gain acceptance in popular as well as corporate culture: Fig. 6 (left to right) As a concession to the GPO’s investment in Stuart Rose’s modified Clarendon typeface, Henrion had mock-ups made to allow the Post Office Board to compare designs using his proposed Helvetica against Rose’s Clarendon. Images © University of Brighton Design Archives 2017, courtesy of the FHK Henrion Archive. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 I am also a little worried over Henrion’s crown with the association of Royal mail. Will Her Majesty approve of his stylization of her crown. I would imagine when she gave her approval for its continued use she thought in terms of the Crown she approved when she came to the crown. After all it is one thing for [the soft drinks producer] Corona to produce their own crown, but we are the Royal Mail. Overall, internal memos and minutes from Post Office Board meetings paint a picture of a very decentralized, fairly obstinate organization. The five divisions of the GPO were allowed to operate with considerable independence, often with conflicting goals. Nearing the end of his two-year contract, Henrion was scheduled to make a compre- hensive presentation to the PMG and members of the Board in July 1967. But at the last minute, the PMG was no longer available and the meeting was rescheduled for October and subsequently rescheduled again for 16 November 1967. In the meantime, correspondence shows that the Post Office was now open to the notion of a Design Panel. In a memo dated 11 August 1967, the Deputy Director of Public Relations, Frank Savage, drew up a suggested composition of the Design panel and outlined members’ respective responsibilities. It was a small victory for Henrion, but it would come too late to have any bearing on his efforts. Final outcomes and ae ft rmath Henrion’s efforts were to prove to be for naught. A very short memo from M. Morris, Personal Secretary to PMG Edward Short, dated 16 January 1968, marked an unequivocal end to the exercise when Morris noted that all house style decisions should be deferred until the new crown corporation structure was in place. An indication of what must have been a point of frustration for Henrion is found in what is almost an insignificant notation. Shortly before his contract was to expire in December 1967, Henrion provided the GPO with a final report which transcribed his full activities. Among the rather dry details, Henrion accounts for his fee by recording 3036 hours invoiced, 668 hours not invoiced, and 198 meetings with records of the persons present at the respective meet- ings. However, in the course of the two years of his contract, only one meeting was with the full Post Office Board—the individuals who were to decide the fate of his recom- mendations. And to add to the irony, at that same July meeting, the Post Office Board decided not to extend Henrion’s contract once it expired on 15 December 1967. Without access to the actual decision-makers who would ultimately determine the fate of Henrion’s recommendations, and without an internal champion to shepherd his design by either amicable means or sheer force of will, Henrion’s design proposal essentially languished: Benn left the PMG position mid-exercise to become Minister of Technology, and the new PMG Edward Short had little interest in a new coordi- nated corporate image in the face of a pending new corporate structure for the GPO, thereby rendering a need for a unified identity moot. And in 1968, Stuart Rose was promoted to Design Director to serve the postal and giro units of the new public cor- poration, where he advanced his own vision for the Post Office’s house style [7]. In the same year his contract ended, Henrion and his design partner Alan Parkin published Design Coordination and Corporate Image, one of the first books to take up the study of corporate branding. And in what may be interpreted as a parting criticism of the GPO’s recalcitrance, on the leaf facing the half title, Henrion included a number of quotations from the International Design Congress: Profit by Design, a gathering organized by the ColD and held in London in October 1966. Included among them is a comment from David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 Fig. 7 (left to right) GPO logos: 1934, MacDonald Gill, designer; 1953, Stuart Rose, designer; 1967, Stuart Rose, designer; 1969, Stuart Rose(?), designer. Reproduced with permission. Images © Royal Mail Group 2017. Images drawn by the author. former PMG and then Minister of Technology Anthony Wedgwood Benn, who stated, ‘Top Management must accept designers as an integral part of the production team. Too many managers still think of designers as people you bring in at the end’. Immediately follow- ing Benn’s statement is one by Traugott Malzan, Head of the Information Department at Braun AG, ‘A company that makes only a halfhearted attempt at good design, without the full support of top management, might well lose its shirt’. In this way, Henrion was able to perhaps express what his sense of professionalism otherwise prevented him from doing. Eventually, Henrion’s recommendation that an internal design committee be estab- lished to oversee all aspects of design came to fruition in 1970. It is important to recognize that as a governmental department, the GPO subscribed to different cultural mores to those of a stand-alone (public or private) corporation. Civil servants viewed the GPO as a public service, one which was above the tawdry pursuit of marketing and the Darwinian aggressions of competition. Modernizing the GPO to meet the needs of an industrialized and competitive marketplace required significant structural change that the organization—unlike British Rail—was not prepared to make. So while a new house style or corporate identity might present the image of a modern institution to the public, the fact remains that true efficiency cannot be simply window dressing. David Cabianca Associate Professor, Department of Design, School of the Arts, Media, Performance, & Design, York University, Toronto, Canada E-mail: cabianca@yorku.ca David Cabianca completed an undergraduate degree in architectural studies at the University of Manitoba and a Master of Architecture degree from Princeton University (1995). This was followed by an MFA 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art (2001); an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (2005); and most recently, an MA in Design Writing Criticism, London College of Communication (2012). Initially designed while attending Reading, his typeface Cardea was released by Emigre Fonts in 2014. In 2012, he was one of the organizers of the AIGA Design Educators Conference, ‘Blunt: Explicit and Graphic Design Criticism Now’. His writing has appeared in Emigre, Idea, Visible Language and Design Observer. He has taught at the University of Manitoba, University of Michigan, OCAD University, CalArts and Cranbrook Academy of Art and has held a full-time position teaching graphic design at York University in Toronto, Canada since 2005. Acknowledgements: I wish to thank Marion Wesel-Henrion for her kind suggestions and the staff at The BT Archive, the University of Brighton Design Archives and The British Postal Museum & Archive for their patience and invaluable assistance in completing this research. Research funding was provided by York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 prototypes. These were completed in 1960 and 1961. Notes Details of this early attempt to present a unified modern 1 Duncan Campbell-Smith, Masters of the Post: The house style for the Post Office are outlined in a special Authorized History of the Royal Mail (London: Allen Lane issue of Design magazine: Design: GPO Special Feature, 2011), 438–487. 173 (1963): 33–55. In a series of articles written by David Wainwright, this issue includes individual reviews of the 2 Anthony Wedgwood Benn inherited the title Viscount GPO’s attempts to modernize architecture, graphics, street Stansgate following the death of his father. The title auto- furniture, telephones, experimental counters as well as an matically made him a member of the British House of Lords; interview with Director General Ronald German. however, membership of the Upper Chamber meant Benn would not be permitted to remain a Member of Parliament 6 Timeline of events, ‘Post Office “Design Unit”‘. n.d. [type- within the House of Commons and so he renounced his set memo] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events peerage on 31 July 1963, the day the Peerage Act passed leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. into law and made it possible for him to do so. Leslie Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling Hale, ‘Benn, William Wedgwood, first Viscount Stansgate House. (1877–1960)’, rev. Mark Pottle, in Oxford Dictionary of 7 Toby O’Brien, GPO memo to R.  German, 5 June 1963. National Biography, ed. H.Colin G.  Matthew and Brian [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Harrison, OUP, Oxford, 2004; online ed., ed. Lawrence Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Goldman, January 2008, <www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling library.yorku.ca/view/article/30705> accessed 4 July 2015. House. 3 ‘In the 1960s, generally only the more affluent, salaried 8 William Ryland, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 5 February 1963. employees had bank accounts. Payment of wages in cash [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. was the norm. Cheque accounts were more likely to be Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. held by businesses than the man in the street. For send- Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling ing payments by post, Postal Orders were widely used. House. The National Giro system was set up by the Post Office in 1968 as an initiative of the Labour government to provide 9 J.N. White, Letter to T. O’Brien, 31 July 1963. [typeset let- banking facilities for those people who did not have bank ter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events lead- accounts’. John Chenery, National Giro <www.lightstraw. ing to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. co.uk/gpo/giro/index.html> accessed 27 December 2011. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. O’Brien, GPO memo to R. German, 31 July 1964. [typeset 4 Prior to his appointment as Postmaster General, and four months before the coming election, Benn wrote an opin- letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events lead- ing to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. ion piece for The Guardian newspaper, suggesting that the Post Office should be spun off as a ‘self-funding’ enter - London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. prise, i.e. a crown corporation, rather than being a gov- 10 O’Brien, Letter to P.  Reilly, 13 November 1964. [typeset ernment department dependent on public funding. It was letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events lead- this column which caught the eye of Prime Minister Harold ing to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. Wilson, leading him to appoint Benn to the position of London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. PMG. Anthony Wedgwood Benn MP, ‘The Post Office’, The 11 Paul Reilly, Letter to T. O’Brien, 20 November 1964. [type- Guardian, 19 June 1964, 22. In fact, the Director General, set letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events Ronald German, was not averse to the notion of spinning leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. off the Post Office to a crown owned corporation, but Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling he was steadfastly against splitting the various divisions. House. It was German—to his later regret—who had hired the American management consultants McKinsey & Company 12 Please note: in order to better reflect the mannerisms and to study the possibility of reorganizing the GPO into a pub- attitudes that were prevalent at the time, the endnotes in licly held utility. Ian Aitken, ‘The Post, Phones, and Savings this paper often include direct quotations from archived Bank May Be Separated’, The Guardian, 6 July 1965, 1; correspondence materials. O’Brien, Letter to R. German, 24 Campbell-Smith, 438.) November 1964. [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events leading to Appointment of Design 5 Ernest Marples (PMG 17 January 1957–14 October 1959, Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail succeeded by Reginald Bevins, PMG 14 October 1959–18 Archive, Freeling House. A month later, O’Brien reinforces October 1964)  commissioned Hugh Casson and Misha his negative view of Henrion with a further memo to the Black to redesign the London offices of South Molton Director General: ‘In fact as you probably know he is a very Street, Knightsbridge, and Ludgate Circus as modern David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 cantankerous person although a very good designer. What When all the inquiries and studies are completed, it will worries me above everything else is that if he is appointed be necessary for us to make big changes ourselves’. Benn, he may well alienate a great many people in the Post Office quoted in ‘Changes coming in GPO’, The Guardian, 10 and consequently design in the Post Office instead of tak- May 1966, 7. ing a very reasonable step forward may be set back quite 19 O’Brien, GPO memo to R.  German, 3 June 1965. [type- a bit.’ O’Brien, Letter to R.  German, 31 December 1964. set letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Freeling House. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling 20 Frederick H.K. Henrion and Alan Parkin, ‘Visual Design for House. Telecommunications’, Post Office Telecoms Journal, 19–20 13 Ronald German, Letter to A.W. Benn, 5 January 1965. (1967–68): 33. [typeset letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. 21 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 14), 8 July 1965. Events leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. F.H.K. Henrion. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. For a detailed report on the extensive pro- Freeling House. At the same meeting, O’Brien was asked to cess by which British Railways was undergoing a coordi- contact the British Railways Board and ‘find out what they nated effort at an integrated and rationalized design see are doing in the field of Design, the organization they had also Design: Railways Special Issue, 171 (1963). This special for coping with it, and how successful it had been, and to issue coincided with the exhibition New Designs for British report his findings to the Board’. Ironically, the Director of Railways organized by the CoID, 27 February–23 March Industrial Design, George Williams, who was the leading 1963, which celebrated the British government’s invest- figure overseeing the implementation of the new British ment in modernizing rail travel. Rail identity, emphasized the support of senior manage- 14 Anthony Wedgwood Benn, Handwritten response to ment: ‘Much, of course, depends on the determination R. German, 6 January 1965. [manuscript] PRD/W/21 (uncat- and support of top management. Without this one can alogued) Design Unit. Events leading to Appointment of hardly expect rapid progress’. George Williams, Letter to Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. London: GB 813 The T. O’Brien, 26 July 1965. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 15 Henrion (1914–1990) was born Heinrich Fritz Kohn in The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House.) Yet this endorse- Nuremberg, Germany, but after World War II broke out, ment from Williams—which would have supported and upon leaving Germany to study and then work in Paris, Henrion’s position—had little bearing on the Post Office he used a modified version, ‘Frederick Henri Kay Henrion’. Board’s mindset. Adrian Shaughnessy, FHK Henrion: The Complete Designer 22 For example, the CoID organized its first International (London: Unit Editions, 2013), 22. Design Congress in 1951, which was followed by simi- 16 ‘P.B.15: Post Office Appoints Design Consultant’, 26 lar congresses in 1956 and 1961. The congress meeting January 1965. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/ of 1966 was themed ‘Profit by Design’. The 1966 event Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The was divided into ‘Implications for Design of Technological Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. Innovation’ (concerning capital goods); ‘The Industrial Designer’s Role in Product Development’ (concerning light 17 A coordinated identity is not simply an exercise in manag- engineering and domestic appliances); and ‘Design and ing public opinion. The rationalizing of visual expression Marketing’ (focusing on consumer goods and services). As does have an impact on efficiency and cost savings, as an indication of how important the subject was to the gov- British Rail soon discovered: ‘Redesign of pocket timetables ernment, the keynote talk was delivered by Lord Brown, has saved the Railways Board “up to 40 per cent” in paper Minister of State, Board of Trade, who emphasized, ‘that and printing costs […] The new timetables are the work of Jock Kinneir in association with BR’s industrial design and product design is the forefront of the business battle. It certainly must be kept in the forefront of Britain’s battle for publicity departments’. Anon., ‘Redesign Saves Money for British Rail’, Design, 240 (1968):27. exports’. Design, 216 (1966): 15. 23 Reilly, Letter to T.  O’Brien, 20 July 1965. [typeset letter] 18 ‘If you look at the Post Office today and the Post Office of the future, it is obvious that we are in the middle of a Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. period of revolutionary change. In my view every organ- London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. In the letter held by the Royal Mail Archive, Reilly’s points isation, particularly one likely to be set in its ways, should from time to time engage in critical self-examination to of criticism have been underlined in red—one assumes by ensure it will equip itself to the challenge of the future. O’Brien. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 24 F.B. Savage, GPO memo to T.  O’Brien, 26 July 1965. 31 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 17), 8 September [manuscript] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. 1965. [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion POST 122/10304. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. [Emphasis in the original.] Archive, Freeling House. Commencing from September Savage here refers to a previous memo sent to O’Brien 1965, Deputy Director Generals included A.W.C. (William) which states ‘Henrion considers that as the Design Panel Ryland (Telecom) and Alan Wolstencroft (Posts). The Post decides policy the administrative function of producing Office Savings Bank was headed by Kenneth Anderson, the design should be performed by two people; a Design Comptroller and Accountant General under the direction Administrator and a Coordinating Designer (Henrion of the Home Office and the Exchequer, and the Engineering himself).’ Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, n.d. [manu- Division was headed by the Engineer-in-Chief. script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 32 However, much to the resentment of individuals in the 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Public Relations Department, PBenn wished to set aside Freeling House. the PO Board’s decision of 8 September 1965, and at 25 Memos exchanged nearly a year later between Savage the urging of Henrion in June 1966 recommended that and O’Brien verify this assumption. ‘[A]part from such a Design Coordinator position be established to work things as changes in publicity sites or vans in Post Office, with Henrion from within the Post Office. O’Brien, GPO etc. resulting from new layout or design and the use of memo to A.  Wolstencroft, 4 August 1966. [typeset let- new logos or symbols, I  imagine that we in the [Public ter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST Relations Department] must retain a freedom in the pro- 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, duction of all straight forward publicity material and Freeling House.) media’. Savage, GPO memo to T.  O’Brien, 25 February 33 Post Office Board, ‘Extract from the Minutes of the 18th 1966. [manuscript] Design in the Post Office/Henrion meeting (POB (65) 18)  held on 6 October 1965’. [type- Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal set minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. Mail Archive, Freeling House. Which was followed by POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, another note to O’Brien: ‘What I don’t want to have to Freeling House. do is to control artist’s designs, publicity art work and 34 O’Brien, GPO memo to A. Wolstencroft, 27 October 1965. type founts. While we of course must use the symbol [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. or logotypes design by Henrion to make an advertise- POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, ment or poster etc. clearly Post Office (as we do now). Freeling House. We must still retain freedom to get the right artwork and typography etc’. Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 35 The motion guaranteeing autonomy was restated verbatim 8 March 1966. [manuscript] Design in the Post Office/ in the minutes of the subsequent meeting of 8 September Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The 1965: POB (65) 80 and as late as n.d. November 1966: Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. POB (66) 89. [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/ Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The 26 Reilly, Letter to T. O’Brien, 17 August 1965. [typeset letter] Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. (Post Office Board, Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. ‘Extract from the Minutes of the 17th meeting (POB (65) 17) held on 8 September 1965’. [typeset minutes] Design in 27 Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 19 August 1965. [manu- the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House.) The PO 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Board’s reluctance to relinquish design control to a cen- Freeling House. tral design department was first hinted at during the 14th 28 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 14), 8 July 1965. meeting (POB (65) 14) held on 8 July 1965. At that meet- [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. ing, minutes indicate, ‘doubts also about the need for a POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Design Panel. It was felt that its functions could adequately Freeling House. be performed by the Post Office Board’. Henrion’s contract 29 Williams, Letter to T. O’Brien, 26 July 1965. [typeset letter] ran from 15 December 1965 to 15 December 1967, to be paid a total of 20,000 British guineas. Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. 36 While there is no evidence, the notion that the manage- 30 Post Office Board Minutes (POB (65) 16), 5 August 1965. ment of the GPO did not want a design panel because they [typeset minutes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. feared that it would open the door to additional restruc- POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, turing of the GPO, i.e. a break from ministerial control and Freeling House. splitting of the various divisions, cannot be dismissed. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 37 Henrion, Quoted in David Wainwright, ‘Red Letter Days for the GPO in 1953 replaced Gill’s and was released to coin- the Post Office’, Design, 223 (1967): 34. cide with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 38 Henrion, Letter to T.  O’Brien, 28 October 1965, p.  1. 46 ‘Henrion [is] a past-President of SIDA, Rose the present [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. President. Who decides [sic] and which of them is right[?]’ POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 19 August 1965. [manu- Freeling House. script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, 39 See Wainwright, ‘GPO House style for offices’, op cit., 36. Freeling House. These ongoing commitments followed the work already completed on three prototype designs for modern post 47 In the exhibition catalogue accompanying Design Research offices (South Molton Street, Knightsbridge, and Ludgate Unit 1942–72, Rose’s name appears in a list of ‘Members Circus) completed between 1960 and 1961. and Associates of the Design Research Unit 1944–69’. Next to his name are the title ‘Design Administrator’ and 40 See Wainwright, ‘GPO House style for offices’, op cit., the dates ‘1964–68’. Michelle Cotton, Design Research 33–55. And in a letter to Henrion, Eric Bedford makes it Unit 1942–72 (London: Koenig Books, 2010), 118. clear that the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works was satisfied with its own colour choices and had already com- 48 Stuart Rose, Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, 6 January 1966. [type- mitted itself to ‘320 units which will make up into 40/50 set letter] PRD/W/21 (uncatalogued) Design Unit. Events Post Office fronts—and some £140,000 is involved’. leading to Appointment of Design Advisor Mr F.H.K. Henrion. Bedford also makes it clear that MPBW has always been London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. involved in colour choices and the he expects this arrange- 49 O’Brien, GPO Minute to R.  German, 17 January 1966. ment to continue. Eric Bedford, Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. 19 July 1967. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/ POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Freeling House. Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. 50 ‘We also discussed the problem arising from Stuart Rose’s 41 O’Brien, Post Office Board minutes (65) 120, 12 November appointment as Typographical Advisor. […] It seemed to 1965, p.  2. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/ me that what you suggested as the lines of demarcation Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The should be agreeable to everyone but I  think it would be Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. useful to discuss this between the three of us’. O’Brien, 42 ‘May I  point out that any agreement has to be on both Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, 30 December 1965. [typeset sides and some of your suggestions were not agreeable to letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST Stuart Rose’. O’Brien, Letter to F.H.K. Henrion, 23 February 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, 1966. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Freeling House. Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail 51 ‘The situation is of course made more difficult because Archive, Freeling House.) Stuart Rose feels that in accordance with the ethics of 43 In 1958, in a move towards modern efficiency, the Post the Society of Industrial Artists Henrion should in fact Office adopted the DIN standard of paper measurement have refused the appointment because he was aware and hired Francis Meynell as a typographic consultant to that Stuart Rose’s appointment as Typographical Advisor redesign six forms. Meynell used Times Roman for forms to the Post Office covered a very large part of the field in printed in black type and Baskerville for forms printed in which Henrion would be operating’. O’Brien, GPO memo red. See Wainwright, ‘GPO House style for offices’, op cit., to R. German, 17 January 1966. [typeset letter] Design in 42. Because of their respective origins, Meynell’s typeface the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: choices may seem an appropriate choice for a British insti- GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. tution, but as serif typefaces they were hardly reflective of 52 In typographic parlance, a counterform refers to the nega- a modern ethos. ‘Baskerville’, in particular, is a typeface tive shapes created by the letters and between letters; which exudes an air of aristocratic tradition. x-height refers to the ratio between baseline or bottom 44 German, GPO minute to General Directorate, 7 January of a letter and the height of a lowercase ‘x’; and ‘fit- 1966. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion ting’ refers to the how close letters may be placed to one Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail another without inhibiting legibility. Archive, Freeling House. 53 Savage, GPO memo to T.  O’Brien, 13 July 1967. [manu- 45 The GPO’s first logo was designed in 1934 by map designer script] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST MacDonald (‘Max’) Gill, brother of Eric Gill, the renowned 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, typeface designer and stonecutter. Stuart Rose’s design for Freeling House. On Henrion’s proposal to assign the colour Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018 yellow to the Telecommunication Division and the name 58 Post Office Board, ‘Extract from the Minutes of the 6th itself, A.B. Harnden, Director London Telecommunications meeting. (POB (67) 6) held on 5 July 1967’. [typeset min- Region, noted, utes] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, There is general acceptance that yellow is the right Freeling House. colour for vehicles, safety being the overwhelming consideration. 59 Benn was appointed Minister of Technology on 5 July There is no enthusiasm for orange as an alternative 1966. Before he left the position of PMG, he issued a to yellow, and little for it as an alternative to red. recommendation that Henrion should have full control I should hate it. over typography in spite of Rose’s continuing contract Two people who have seen the papers have com- as Typographic Advisor. In a letter to German—who was mented that ‘Tels’ is a horrible abbreviation: I think it at odds with Benn on a number of issues prior to his is a good abbreviation of a horrible word and I cannot departure—Wolstencroft hints that while Henrion may imagine that after a time it would provoke much ire. be granted the additional oversight he was requesting, his recommendations ultimately be dismissed: ‘I would A.B. Harnden, GPO Memo to T.  O’Brien, 26 June 1967. not of course envisage that Mr. Henrion would be pre- [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. sent during the Board’s discussion of the future place POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, of design in the Post Office’. Wolstencroft, August 9, Freeling House.) 1966. Letter to R.  German, Director General. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 54 Savage, GPO memo to T. O’Brien, 13 July 1967. [manuscript] 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. POST 122/10305. Freeling House. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Freeling House. 60 T. Scott, 31 March 1967. Letter from the private secre- 55 Savage, ‘Design panel proposals by DDPR’, 11 August tary of E.  Short, Postmaster General, to F.H.K. Henrion. 1967. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. Report. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, Archive, Freeling House. Freeling House. 56 M. Morris, ‘Mr. Henrion’s Contract’, 16 January 1968. [typeset letter] Design in the Post Office/Henrion Report. 61 Anon., ‘Postal post’, Design, 240 (1968, 27. POST 122/10305. London: GB 813 The Royal Mail Archive, 62 Benn, Quoted in: F.H.K. Henrion and A.  Parkin, Design Freeling House. coordination and corporate image (London: Studio Vista, 57 F.H.K. Henrion and Associates, Work done for the Post Office 1967), n.p. Jan. 1966 to Sept. 1967, F.H.K Henrion and Associates, 63 T. Malzan, Quoted in: ibid. London, 1967, 1. [typeset booklet] F.H.K. Henrion Archive, 64 Anon., Design, 261 (1970): 21. Box p. 3, Brighton: University of Brighton Design Archives. David Cabianca Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jdh/article-abstract/31/2/121/4092957 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 21 June 2018

Journal

Journal of Design HistoryOxford University Press

Published: May 25, 2018

Keywords: corporate identity; General Post Office (GPO); branding; modernization; modernist typography; F.H.K. Henrion

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