Underground Design

As I travel considerably far to university using public transport and a lot generally in life, I always acknowledge my surroundings and take quite an interest to the interiors of these public services. One thing everyone who has used the London Underground will have noticed is that each train line is represented by a different colour on the tube map, but not only on the map, these colours are also incorporated into the interiors of the trains whether it is the hand rails, arm rests, seats or the even the flooring. What a lot of people don’t realise is that the seat patterns on the London Underground are all designed by different people and the colours used make them significant to that line.


An example of these moquette seat designs would be one of the fairly new London Underground seat patterns, which is for the District, Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan line. It was introduced to the public in 2010 on the 31st of July when the first new S8 model train ran on the metropolitan line. The simple block pattern uses all of the different colours from the different lines. You may be wondering why there are so many different tube lines incorporated  into this one design? This is simply because they use the same model of trains on all of these lines.

All of the seat coverings on the Underground are made of moquette, a French word for carpet, it is a type of woven pile fabric in which cut or uncut threads form a short dense cut or loop pile. The way in which this material is created makes it a very durable material, perfect for the London Underground!

Personally I love the colour coded city transport system, because not only does it help  me remember which line is which, it provides something new and different to look at when making such repetitive journeys on the underground! I think all of these different colours and patterns used throughout the London Underground are brilliant and really signify the diversity of London city itself.

Another example of one these moquette seats is another one of the newest designed patterns, by Wallace Sewell who won an open competition. It is called “Barman Moquette” named in honour of Christian Barman, London Transport’s publicity manager between 1935 and 1941. Barman played a key role in much of the design that took place across the network during that period. The Wallace Sewell firm have won numerous competitions and have produced designs for both the Overground and Croydon Tramlink before the Barman moquette, but I think this is their most significant design. Amongst the blues, purples and red, the abstract design displays city landmarks such as Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. The design was first applied to refurbished Central line tubes in 2011, but now you can find it on numerous main tube lines as TFL are using it on most tube line refurbishments now.

Barman moquette designed by WallaceSewell


Sadly the distinctive moquettes for tube lines are slowly disappearing due to TFL simplifying the train interiors with the same moquette seat patterns like the “Barman moquette” being used on numerous lines. I am quite disappointed with this decision as I enjoyed looking at all of the different colour schemed designs while using the Underground. The old and stressed seats added character to the old and stressed trains, but I guess as we progress into the future the seat patterns and trains must change with the times. I enjoyed researching more into this topic as it made me think how design can be applied in so many different ways and also how design changes with the times.


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