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Grace Berry
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Tim Fendley: Professional ‘sherpa urbano’
Applied’s founder is featured in November’s issue of The Good Life Italia magazine

Writer Nicola Scevola takes the reader on a journey through the London streets with the guidance of Applied’s Tim Fendley. The Italian magazine features insights and points of view on a whole range of topics including science, business, contemporary art, architecture, music, travel and fashion. 

The article, written in Italian, delves into the topics of urban mobility, place-naming and getting lost.

Featured in ‘The Good Mind’ section, the interview delves into Applied’s renowned Legible London scheme. And the huge impact that this has had on city wayfinding around the world. 

“In London the system has helped increase walking by 5%”
Legible London was the result of extensive observation and research on the London tube users.

Legible London serves as an example of a project which uses both digital and analogue resources for navigation. And this mixture is important. For example, the Good Life Italia article points out the interesting fact that, although we are now equipped with smartphones that have GPS, many of us feel vulnerable walking with our phones in our hands. Tim states: ‘the human mind loves shortcuts and a nice map placed in a strategic point is still faster and more intuitive to consult than using a smartphone’. There needs to be this balance to encourage mobility. 

Today, urban mobility is largely dominated by private vehicles. But at Applied, we foresee that the near future will have a greater mix; not just by foot or bicycle but also by public and shared transport. The challenge is making alternatives to the car easier to use. And producing well-designed wayfinding solutions can help to do this.

And how about ‘The curse of knowledge’? It is when whoever is planning a place knows it so well, unconsciously taking information for granted. Applied have ‘collected hundreds of suggestions and impressions to get into people’s heads and defeat the curse of knowledge’. 

A mental map from research undertaken for Legible London. As Tim explains in the interview, the Gherkin building was officially called the Swiss Re Building. Difficult to remember. Nicknamed the Gherkin, this has made it one of the main references in London. And the Legible London scheme adopts these nicknames popular with people. 

And by understanding how people use, remember and see places we can better facilitate mobility. For example, Applied have partnered with Princeton University to develop a campus-wide wayfinding system. The historic 600-acre campus is made up of over 200 unique architectural buildings. As Tim explains in the magazine article, ‘when the university asked us for help, we observed that many buildings were missing visible names. We simply suggested clearly indicating the name with a style completely in-line with the architecture and materials of the buildings. We have improved the situation by underlining the historicity of the place’. 

Read more about Applied’s work at Princeton University via the links below:

Princeton University: 

Princeton Digital:

The Good Life Italia N° 50 containing the full article can be accessed online:

posted by
Grace Berry
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