Hidden messages in London’s typography

Jun 23 2019 15:00 - 17:30

The Chocolate Factory N16, Farleigh Pl, N16 7SX London

Hidden messages in London’s typography workshop

This is the evocative story of London street signs and what they communicate to us, often on a subconscious level.

Hello I'm Sarah, join me for a joyous and activity-filled session in the Type Tasting studio exploring London’s letterforms and street signs as you uncover their hidden messages. Whether you're visiting London or you're a seasoned Londoner, this is a wonderful way to gain insider-knowledge of the city and a fun way to discover why typography is so exciting.

This session was a roaring success when it launched at Soho House. Due to popular demand it will now run on an occasional basis from the ephemera-filled Type Tasting studio. This is in an old Victorian chocolate factory overlooking a pretty cobbled courtyard, nestled on the edge of Dalston in London.

Suitable for all, no prior experience of (or interest in) graphic design is necessary. This engaging session will open your eyes to what’s around you every day, and shed light on some of the instinctive choices you make.

See more dates and times here.

What’s provided

• Snacks and tasters will be served during the workshop to bring different stories to life. Since we’re in an old chocolate factory, we’ll end with a multisensory chocolate tasting in true Willy Wonka-esque style.

• Lashings of tea and coffee.

• You’ll be provided with a sketchbook to scribble in, drawing materials and colour-in information sheets. You’ll also leave armed with type-themed activities to take part in.

What to bring

Your curiosity.

About your host

Author Sarah Hyndman is your tour guide for this hands-on and interactive masterclass. She will show you how the street signs of London reveal amazing layers of history, and that inform your decision making — often on a subconscious level. From the pictograms and heraldic motifs of the Middle Ages, through to current day trends in typography.

Sarah Hyndman is the author of ‘Why Fonts Matter’. She is a TEDx speaker, a regular on radio (BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth with Michael Rosen, Saturday Live, Today.) and TV (Sunday Brunch). Sarah is a multisensory typography expert and collaborates on studies with Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford.


The workshop takes place in the Type Tasting studio on the first floor of a converted Victorian Chocolate Factory overlooking a pretty cobbled courtyard surrounded by artist’s studios. It is nestled in a quiet street between Dalston and Stoke Newington (please note that access is via an external metal staircase). The nearest stations are Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland, and there are plenty of buses (the nearest stop is Princess May Road).

More about the session

This is an immersive and multisensory journey through time, type and semiotics from past history to future trends all served up with sound and activities. Learn how to take a closer look at the city streets to discover how new and preserved signs narrate three centuries of letterforms. Understand what these tell you about the social and cultural development of an area and spot ‘secret’ clues that are hidden in their shapes.

Ultimately you will learn how the signage in the urban environment documents an area’s unique visual DNA, and how this brings the history of typography to life as it takes it out of the textbook and places it in your everyday life.

“You will never walk down a London high street in the same way again. Sarah’s love of her subject is infectious and her knowledge is impressive.” Heather

“Sarah’s passionate knowledge of this fascinating subject is wonderfully infectious.” Simon

“I learnt so much, not only about the history of type, but also about the enormous (and surprising!) impact it has on our perception of the world around us.” Dean

“Fantastic; thought provoking, and what’s more - fun!” Dan

“I would definitely recommend it for people wanting to look at London in a different way and understand it’s history and culture.” Muruku

“You will never look at shop signage and street architecture in the same way again.” Zoë

“Sarah’s enthusiasm is incredible, it’s really great to see someone so passionate about what they do and sharing it with others, I think that’s what’s really different about London.” Michelle

“Why isn’t typography always taught this way?” Ruchi

On a longer half or full-day session we get out the paints and charcoal and roll up our sleeves to get messy drawing letterforms.

This session is inspired by the Dalston Type Safaris that Sarah ran for five years. Read about them in the Londonist, and about her love of street signs in the Big Issue.


Please get in touch with Sarah if you have any questions or would like to organise a private session for your group or organisation. Visit the Type Tasting website.

Standard Ticket GBP 65.00
Earlybird Ticket SOLD OUT