Robert L. Peters

16 October 2008

Designer signs of the times…



Toronto, Canada

The signs sprang up suddenly under the cover of night. Official-looking and made of hard plastic and aluminum, they were bolted to posts at major intersections along Lake Shore Blvd. Others turned up at busy downtown hubs. “Quiet,” read one, in front of a downtown hospital. “Homeless people sleeping.”

Another advised, “Homeless warming grate. Please keep clear.” For Mark Daye, who created the series of seven signs, it seemed a master stroke of subversion. How do you draw attention to an age-old urban issue, especially when passersby have long been conditioned to ignore the usual signage—those tattered posters glued to poles and construction sites? “I started thinking about the way sign systems work,” says the 30-year-old Toronto student. “There’s official signage. There’s advertising. So I thought, what would happen if I used official-looking signage, but I put an unofficial message in it?”

Read the full article in the Toronto Star here. View more images on Mark Daye’s flickr™ photostream here. (Thanks to Aiden Enns of Geez magazine for the heads-up… I’m not sure quite what to think of this either—will it reinforce stereotypes to people with no homes, or could it actually inspire compassion, raise public consciousness, and increase support for social safety-nets?)

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