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Doug developed an interest in public transport from a very early age. This quickly led to a specific fascination with London Transport’s bus and Underground maps and quite likely provided the subliminal impetus that set his career direction.
He is fascinated by human reasoning of graphic information in all its manifestations: forms, maps, signs, instructions, book layouts – all of them. He is just as interested in the logic (or commonly the lack of it) of the designers who create this sort of material, that is everywhere in our lives, as he is in the way users then try to make sense of it.
His career path was obvious and he left school at 16 (couldn’t get away soon enough) and trained as a cartographer at Hunting Surveys Ltd where he worked on many UK government and overseas land use and road construction projects.
He joined FWT in 1979 because of his specialism in transport mapping. This rapidly led to an interest in typography, signage, information design and printing. This in turn made him aware, and later in awe, of London Transport’s ‘Johnston’ typeface that he had been looking at during his formative years, not realizing why it existed, nor why it did its job so astonishingly well. How could a typeface look so simple and work so very well? Answer: it is not simple – because Edward Johnston worked so hard and did such a terrific job of fooling us into making it look simple.
He looked after the London Underground map (diagram) through much of the 1980s and, when London Buses embarked on a far reaching review and major expansion of its passenger information and wayfinding products, they came to him at FWT. It was at this time he and information designer Elaine Chambers met.
For the next four or so years, he worked very closely on evolving the All-London bus map into local area guides and bus shelter map posters – working out the optimum way to divide London up for users and as a cost-effective rollout. Soon after this he was centrally involved with the inception, design and initial production of the trials named ‘Victoria Corridor’, with LT’s design directorate and executive directors, especially Norman Cohen (now retired).
Following this, Elaine and he devised and designed the now commonplace ‘spider’ posters and multi-route bus corridor panels. When cycling became a major initiative some years later, Doug devised the optimum configuration to cover London in the now range of 14 guides.
Outside of London, Doug has devised and implemented signage and wayfinding at about 30 UK bus stations and city centres, including the touch screen displays at Wolverhampton bus station. Other major projects include schemes in Birmingham, Derby, Leicester, Southend and Warrington.
From 1992 he started his role with the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). He has also produced franchise bid maps for several individual TOCs, as well as route diagrams in carriages. When Northern Rail was formed, Doug devised and project managed the survey, design, production and rollout of over 300 station exit wayfinding posters. He subsequently did the same thing for the whole of West Midlands PTE and has devised and produced literally thousands of maps and diagrams for three other PTEs and most bus and railway companies in the UK.
Since 2005 he has become especially involved in new material for London Underground’s Network Operations Centre and other internal departments such as the Access Reservation Agency. Doug has produced some very detailed products intended to convey complex operational detail in a form that is easy to understand and use on a daily basis. This includes maps and diagrams for flood control, radio communication, tunnel ventilation, power supply, infrastructure and management.