Why the London Tube Map Has Been Turned Into a Working Radio

By Sam Scott on at

When Harry Beck designed the iconic London Tube map in 1931, he was partly inspired by circuit board schematics. He even sketched an "All Electric" spoof diagram of the network before working on the final draft.

Now, Designer in Residence at the London Design Museum, Yuri Suzuki, has revisited the concept and put it to use as a working AM/FM radio. The replica is true to the layout of the original, but does take liberties with some of the station names, including 'Oxford Circuit' and 'White City BBC Tuner'.

"A few of the lines are disconnected but most of them are functional," says Yuri of his design. So form doesn't precisely follow function here, but it's an interesting match nonetheless.

Suzuki was commissioned by the Design Museum to create something around the notion of thrift. Gizmodo UK spoke with Yuri about how he arrived at electronics through this theme:

"Thrift is not all about saving money and using cheap materials but also about knowledge and education. Electronics these days have become amazingly complicated. For example, the iPod is a remarkable product that has changed our way of life, but it's impossible to repair it by yourself".

Yuri also drew inspiration from Tim Hunkin's TV series, 'The Secret Life Of Machines'. "I never managed to learn electronics by myself, but that TV programme is really well communicated. I've been following Tim Hunkin's work for some time and it's really about education through entertainment".

In his bid to demystify the internal workings of everyday devices, Yuri has also worked on a radio circuit called the 'Denki Puzzle Radio', which can be assembled from PCB components that are shaped according to their function.

[Vimeo via Design Museum]

Image Credits: London Historian Blog; Hitomi Kai Yoda

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