Winter 1999

Virtual city: sidebar 3

Global language

The proposed identity of Federation Square is not fixed around a single typeform or image but is a responsive, adaptive and evolving language that refers to the philosophical and strategic aims of the site. < = > is the proposed mark for Federation Square.

This formula, ‘less than equals greater than’, was devised by Simon Taylor and used for Tomato’s ‘london< = >tokyo’ installation at the Ginza art space, Tokyo (1997), to explore similarity, difference and exchange between the two cities.

The symbol is intended to refer to the multicultural context of the site, the city of Melbourne and Australia as a whole, and to the ideal of a social democracy where there is mutual respect between every one of us. Its graphic strength lies in the fact that is described in a global language (mathematics), and is available on every computer keyboard.

The ‘open square’ logo refers to the boundaries of site, to framing and to content within context. Many of these concepts have then been introduced into the architectonic forms across the site. The three-dimensional information columns relate, in terms of function and information hierarchy, to the two-dimensional LED matrices, which in turn relate to the one-dimensional directional signage within the buildings and to the destination door plates (single, zero-dimensional points). Therefore there is a legible and articulate hierarchy to the system, as the levels of interaction decrease towards the specific destination.

John Warwicker, Tomato, London and Melbourne

This piece is a sidebar to ‘A virtual city in a global square’ in Eye 34.

First published in Eye no. 34 vol. 9, Winter 1999, Public realm special issue.


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue.