Food’s urban graphic heritage in Walthamstow

Food’s material and symbolic values are central to cultural heritage. Urban foodscapes are dense in graphic communication, with memories and meanings that connect us with place often triggered by food’s graphic heritage, for example, through fascia signs, packaging, branding, patterns, and lettering.

The focus of this project is on everyday grass roots manifestations of food’s graphic heritage within urban settings. We introduce and argue that food’s urban graphic heritage ‘speaks’ differently to diverse individuals and communities, inviting different interpretations that play a part in the development of place attachment and social interaction.

The paper proposes methods for the recording and analysis of these relatively understudied urban features. Questions about what design literacy might mean in a multicultural context are discussed as well as notions of power and politics inherent within design choices made in urban environments. 


A composite of food images compiled to provide an indication of how food is  represented in the urban environment. 01 Valencia, Spain; 02 London (UK); 03 Rome (Italy); 04 Valencia (Spain); 05 Latina (Italy); 06 Shanghai (China);  07 Tokyo (Japan); 08 & 09 Shanghai (China); 10 Oslo (Norway); 11 Shanghai (China);  12 Umea (Sweden); 13 & 14 San Francisco (US); 15 Amsterdam (The Netherlands); 16 Hangzhou (China). Photography: ©2022 Robert Harland (individual photographs at various dates 2010–22)


A miscellaneous indication of the many permanent and semi-permanent representations of food in Walthamstow, spanning the High Street market, Walthamstow village, conservation areas, and retail outlets.



Harland, R.G. & Barnes, A. (2022) ‘Food’s urban graphic heritage in Walthamstow’. In DRS International Conference 2022, Bilbao, 25 June–4 July. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.441



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