Exmouth Market: A Typographic Time Capsule

Exmouth Market is one of Central London’s hidden gems, packed with independent shops, restaurants, cafés and market stalls. This snapshot aims to preserve the street’s unique identity by recording each of its present-day ‘establishments of note’ and regular market stalls. It also delves into the location’s shady 400-year history that includes blood sports, a disreputable Victorian tea garden and an atrocious graveyard now buried under the adjacent park
To evoke the style of the market, the decorated initials, spelling ‘Exmouth’, have been inspired by the rich assortment of lettering found on the street or designed to represent its past.  The ‘E’ features decorative elements that symbolise the market’s watery origins: the ancient spa and the naval officer that Exmouth Market is named after. Other pictograms symbolise the vineyards, duck ponds, Victorian tea gardens and the graveyard.  The ‘O’ represents Joseph Grimaldi—father of all modern-day clowns, who lived at № 56. The ‘U’’s floral pattern is inspired by the vine leaf frieze that decorates the church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and the ‘H’ echoes the original butcher’s livery, now maintained by the restaurant Medcalf.
The text is also full of little typographic details as it weaves across the page, making full use of the typeface’s historical and ornamental characters.
To uncover Exmouth Market’s intriguing story, research was conducted over several months from sources including old directories, maps and newspaper clippings that date back over a hundred years and from the archives of the Islington Local History Centre.  As if to highlight the need to capture the present incarnation of this rapidly evolving street, one of the street’s oldest establishments, Clarks’ Pie and Mash shop, shut down after 83 years in the final stages of typesetting the design.

• Letterpress in silver, turquoise and black
• Individually signed, limited edition of 250
• Printed on Crane's Lettra 300gsm paper
• Size: 660 x 464 mm (25.9" x 18.2") allowing the body text to be easily read from a couple of feet away. 
• Set in Minion Pro by Robert Slimbach 1990, Printed by the renowned Hand & Eye letterpress, London.

Establishments Noted:

North side: Caravan, Gulshan Tandoori, The Exmouth Arms, SpaceEC1, Brill, Farringdon Locksmith & Tool Shop, G N Furniture, Gail’s Bakery, EC One, Café Kick, Bagman and Robin, Family Tree, Potato Merchant & Santoré.
South side: Paesan, East Central Cycles, The Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer, Big Wheel Theatre Company, The Klinik, Clerkenwell Tales, Morito, Moro, Medcalf, Clark’s Pie & Mash, EXM Hair & Beauty, Pride of Siam, Nécco, McCaul Goldsmiths,  Family Business, Hummus Bros, Sweet Boulangerie & Patisserie & Book Ends.

Market Stalls:
Spinach & Agushi, Freebird, Sporeboys, The London Brigaderia, Crêpes & Galettes, Spanish Flavours, Simply Thai, The German Barbeque & Ion Patisserie.

Historical locations referenced: The Fountain, London Spaw, The Dog & Duck/ Ducking Pond House, Brayne’s Row, Exmouth Street, The Pantheon, Spa Fields Chapel, Spa Fields Graveyard.
Back to Top