Signage is not merely an attractant, but also serves a public role as device for orientation.
Commercial signs, parallel or perpendicular to a facade, primarily act to attract. But next to that it has always functioned as device for orientation and navigation within the urban environment. They serve their purpose from a specific distance in perspective, being irrelevant from up close and redundant when in excess. Yet as excessive quantity rather than thoughtful quality prevails the exertion of its public role is thwarted. Facades are clad in logos and brand marks for no other reason than to lure, even intoxicate the masses. For the sign to be relevant, a shop should have just one, visible from a certain distance, perpendicular and not concurrent to the architectural plane, the facade. As a shop’s unit size generally corresponds to its scope of influence, dimensioning and positioning of its sign should thus be analogous, catching the eye of its audience from a relevant distance.
—August Heckscher quoted by Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1966, 104.
As the city’s most visited place, the densest and most costly in retail space, and often, the most expensive street when playing Monopoly, the high street is the city’s social and economic heart. Through these subtle interventions, the coexistence of the elements of the high street—street, shop, sign—is tweaked so to prevent chaos and reach a difficult whole through inclusion. The high street thus is turned into a distinctive place, and the relationship between city and shopping is turned upside down—prioritizing the city, under which shopping, like any other program, operates.
No more towards the city of shopping, of the badaud intoxicated by spectacle. Instead, shopping in the city, a model which instead gives place to the flâneur, a figure who gazes purposefully, while maintaining identity and autonomy.