Time Travel, Travel Card Holders

After a few years away from London and the old offices where we designed the oyster card holders, it’s nice to get back on the tube. No, honestly, it is. You get to rediscover the love you originally felt for the City, before old age made you cynical and grumpy. You get to watch the plethora of cultures and styles parade around you, intertwined and intermingled, living harmoniously alongside each other as if they were all ‘equal’. You reminisce on the times you spent and memories flood back as if you’re in your own Christmas Carol film seeing the same scenes through a ghost’s eyes.

Last night I even went for a run along a route I haven’t taken for 6 years. Along that route, every 20 seconds or so there would be a bar I’d drank in and had a story or two regarding, a house a friend of mine lived in, my favourite take-away, my old dentist (ok, not all great memories) or simply an overall feeling of content that I’d done alright for myself since I lived there last. It wasn’t a long run but it was the easiest 8km I’ve ever run, and I’m the least fit I’ve been for years.

Today I took my significant other round Brixton, where we first made the travel card holders for promoting companies products and services, the place I hold most dear and where I’ve spent most of my time. Although it’s changed a lot there are still swathes that are just as they were. There are also other areas that have improved, in my opinion, and help make Brixton a great place to visit. I’m not talking about the gentrification of the place – I’m vehemently opposed to that, but the maintenance of the Caribbean heart and colourful diversity that makes this place unique. Yeah you’ve got lots of London displaying multicultural unity but there’s nowhere quite like Brixton for how vibrant that is thrust in front of you and nowhere comes close to giving you the feeling it is genuine as my beloved Brixton.

‘Beourguest’, their leftfield slogan (and one of our first travel card wallet designs), graffiti sprayed above the main road on the rail overpass could be taken in many ways but at it’s most basic interpretation it simply conveys warmth and welcome. Other areas with such history and poverty are rife with crime and tension, Brixton oozes character and safety. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll hear sirens every minute and there’s lots of drunkards staggering around, but you’ll not be harassed. Maybe it’s my comfort with the place that offers me this viewpoint, maybe not, but for me this is the place to come to see London.

Tomorrow I’ll take the ‘missus’ to Camden – a once culturally diverse haven offering much of the Brixton vibe above the river and on a bigger scale, now devoured by greed and corruption (the stables, a once legendary night out for music food and drink, was the victim of arson on two occasions and the rejuvenation led to the old stalls being turfed out and the new-boys with their £5 foccacia loafs and cotton tote bags with amusing logos. Camden has it’s place, it’s just shifted from what it was. Maybe that’s progress but I call it something else (unrepeatable).

One day London will be a uniform mess of hipster coffee shops and overpriced trinket stores but I grab hold of Brixton and allow it to feed my serotonin bank as I live the life once more.

I don’t miss living here, I’m happy in the sun, but it is nice to come back.

As I ride the tube later I’ll watch out for the printed oyster card holders the commuters are carrying and sneak a peak to see if they are from CarbonCube Design. No doubt I’ll see a few and more smiles will emerge. I found a stash of ones we created 8 years ago in my friends flat this morning – some of the very first marketing holders we produced. They look worn and disheveled and the quality isn’t as good as they are now, but they are iconic in their own right.

While we’re at it, let’s see if you guys will offer me the opportunity to as for your favourite oyster card holder from down the years?
My favorite is always going the be the Arsenal Travel card holder due to my fond memories there too, but the list is long and broad.

What’s yours then?