Tuesday, 9:35am
15 June 2010

Poundtastic bombastic

rick poynor
the picture department
Graphic design
Visual culture

‘Poundland’s graphic repertoire is the retail equivalent of budget airlines’

In ‘Poundtastic bombastic’ Eye’s latest Web-only Critique, Rick Poynor wonders whether it’s time for Poundland to ditch its ‘proletarian design’.

Here’s an extract: ‘There are now more than 260 Poundlands, and the chain’s restless expansion shows no sign of slowing down. But its graphic design is crude and patronising: repetitive messages are shouted with big type, capital letters and primary colours.’

Read this and more Critiques on the Eye site (which is also an extensive archive for the printed magazine).

Top: Warning sign, warning sign: ‘Dozens of these placards hang from the ceiling, above the aisles, sometimes in combination with the words ‘AMAZING VALUE!’ and – pure copywriting genius – ‘WOW! WOW!’ This message is reiterated in a red banner with warning sign slashes along the edge for greater urgency.’ All photographs by Rick Poynor.

Below: I see it but I pay it no mind: ‘Someone who reads Closer and Heat and flies regularly with Ryanair is not going to find anything odd about the graphic design in Poundland. Yet the assumptions this kind of design makes are hugely patronising.’



Above: Hear my voice, hear my voice: ‘The most basic unit of communication is the legend ‘£1 EACH’ reversed out of a red shield.’

Below: It's saying something and I hope you're concentrating: ‘Even though everyone who ventures through Poundland’s doors knows what the place is offering and why they are there, the shop bawls out its simple sales message at every turn, as if instructing an incorrigible dimwit who might fail to appreciate the point.’


Below: I've got money now, I've got money now: ‘big type, capital letters, unsubtle sans serif; loud colours, probably primaries; lots of pictures; close-fitting boxes around everything; as much packed into the space as possible to connote value for money.’


Eye magazine is available from all good design bookshops and at the online Eye shop, where you can order subscriptions, single issues and back issues. The summer issue, Eye 76, will be a music special. You can read a selection of pages on Eye Before You Buy on Issuu. Student subscriptions are just half price (FANTASTIC VALUE!) bit.ly/EyeStudentOffer.