• Rachel Cockburn

Where to find new colour and texture ideas

One of the things I loved when I first came to London 16 years ago was the tube. The underground network is huge, reliable, and fast (we Londoners are spoilt by it). It’s not the cheapest way to get about, but it’s warm and it’s rare to wait more than 3 minutes for a train.


I found myself in Moorgate tube station last weekend. Like most tube lines and stations, it has a particular smell that I’ve come to love (probably a mixture of pollution and engine fumes) and so the second I got out of the train and onto the platform I got all nostalgic.


Living in UAL student halls near Brick Lane, I came through this station many times changing from Hammersmith line to Northern Line. It’s been modernised a bit recently (as part of the new Crossrail development) and so there’s some new tiles on the walls, less peeling paint. Some of the older features remain, and I’ll share them here.



Huge ventilation grilles along the side of the platform - the repeating lines, grid formation, and the gradient that the shadows naturally create is so cool.



This colour! And the uneven texture, the slight differences in the glaze. These tiny teal tiles cover some of the supporting pillars in the station.



More beautiful and under-appreciated tiles on the way out of the station. This is an old exit - I don’t know if they’ll keep this when the new entrances are opened (sometimes when a new line gets built, the old station entrances are closed or redeveloped). These tiles are navy, about the size of house bricks, and have a bubbly texture.



A proper terrazzo floor, in the old station entrance. For some reason, these always remind me of supermarkets - I guess that the ones I went to as a child must have had the same flooring. It’s old and worn, but still spectacular, and of course it’s been back in fashion since about 2018. I’ve always loved it, and I like how now you can get earrings, wallpaper, notebooks - pretty much any product with this print on.



Huge flagstones on the floor. I’m not sure of the material - stone? Concrete? I wonder how long they’ve been here? Maybe since the station opened in 1865, maybe not as long as that, but they’ve seen millions of feet and I imagine they could tell some great stories. The texture is fascinating.



These train platforms at Moorgate remind me a bit of subway stations in New York. Most London underground stations are just one platform in a long tunnel, with the track on one side. Here you can see 4 platforms at once, people coming and going, and I kind of like it.



Here’s the outside - I’m sharing this pic as I don’t know how much longer this will be a view! Things in London are here one day and gone the next - and the big grand development of the new station that you can see behind (with tower crane) makes me think that the old station entrance might be on borrowed time. Go and soak it up if you can.


Little sparks of ideas from this place:

  • Vector geometric grids like the tiling and gradients from the ventilation panels

  • Colour palettes from the tiles and the terrazzo

  • Textures from the tiles and the flagstones

  • Authentic terrazzo repeats from the flooring

  • Tube platform illustrations - how I’d love to sit on a bench here and draw for hours!

 

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