A Visual Travel Guide to London - By designer Johanne Lian Olsen

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Johanne Lian Olsen is an internationally experienced graphic designer working within type design, editorial design and illustration. She is currently based in London where she works at SocioDesign. We asked her to give us her best tips to the city! Lian Olsen is additionally trained as a photographer, and focuses on both print and digital media, from initial concept development to art working. Her clients include international brands such as IKEA, NIKE and The Unseen. 

Idea & editing: Christina Skreiberg

The Photographers Gallery #

I personally love photo arts and this gallery puts on some amazing exhibitions by the best artists, such as Vivane Sassen and Gregory Crewdson. The Gallerys’ six-storey space is located right by Oxford Street, so if you are doing some shopping in London, you might as well stop by this gallery. The upper floors consist of two new galleries, while the ground floor hosts a nice café/restaurant. Together with the print sales, the bookstore occupies the basement of the building. I can spend hours just looking at the books, how it is designed, bound, as well as the prints for sale. You can buy all kinds of film; medium format to Polaroid film at the store. After some hours at this gallery you just want to go home and start making some photography! 

Tiles on the London underground  #

Spending a lot of time at the underground I began to notice the interesting use of tiles. You find single coloured tiles made into patterns, tiles that are handprinted and tiles that enhances the architectonic spaces. While the newer stations are more uniform, the old tube stations have unique designs and colours, and apparently there is a reason why the tube tiling differs from station to station. When the stations were first tiled, many of the passengers would have been illiterate, and the contrasting tiles helped commuters recognize the station they had arrived at without needing to read the signs. Check out the tiling at Russel Square and Covent Garden. When being stuck in the underground in the rush hour it is good to have something nice to look at, at least. And it makes you appreciate a good pattern in use.

Barbican  #

Barbican, a residential estate in central London, is known for its brutalist architecture, almost a social experiment on how to live in an estate. I love walking around this area looking at the geometric shapes, the contrasting public spaces and the use of materials. The term brutalist originates from the fresh word for ‘raw’, and concrete is typically used as one of the main materials. The Barbican centre located in the centre is an arts centre and the largest of its kind in Europe, and was opened in 1982. The centre is used for classic and contemporary concerts, theatre, film screenings and art exhibitions, and houses a library, restaurants, cafes and bars. The areas’ architecture really invites you to go on a photo-safari as there are great angles and light everywhere. (https://www.barbican.org.uk)

V&A Museum  #

If you are looking for more classic inspiration and a day out, the V&A museum can offer great collections and a beautiful courtyard to gather your thoughts and to refuel. The Museums’ collections consist of arts, design and fashion and arrange exiting exhibitions of both popular culture and retrospective themes. What I like about this museum is the space itself and how you feel like you can go on a hunt within the collection. This museum offers everything from classic marble sculptures to contemporary fashion. I usually make a day out of it, and eat at the beautiful restaurant. (https://www.vam.ac.uk)

National Portrait Gallery  #

This Gallery has the world’s largest collections of faces and personalities, from Tudor times to the present, as paintings, drawing and photography. What I like best about the museum is their annual show, The Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize, a photographic portrait competition. This is the very best in contemporary portrait photography and showcase work by professionals, amateurs and young talents. You will be surprised by the range of work and what counts as a portrait. It is also a great place to spot trends in the art world as some of the winners are straight out of University.  (https://www.npg.org.uk)

Bath  #

Apparently the air you breathe in on the London underground consist of 20% human skin cells (!!!), and now and then you do feel like escaping the city for a few hours to give the body some fresh air. Bath is my absolute favourite place to visit, 1.5 hours west from the city. Bath, known for its Roman-built baths, can be traced back to the 7th century. Most of the architecture in Bath are made from the local stone, which is golden coloured, and this makes the whole city consistent in look. The city has been used as location for a lot of films, especially period dramas, such as Les Miserables, The Duchess and Vanity Fair. There are some great photo opportunities in the city as well as a Fashion Museum. 

Work by Johanne Lian Olsen #

Follow Johanne here! And check out some of her works!