Banks & Miles
I didn’t know when I bought them, but the Consumers’ Association, Which? Magazines were designed by Colin Banks and John Miles, co-founders of Banks & Miles, and designers of some great British design.
Colin Banks studied at both Rochester & Maidstone Schools of Art, and it was at Maidstone that he first met John Miles, “amidst a sea of printers”. Banks was passionate about typography and went on to freelance at London Typographical Designers and work as an assistant to Ernest Hoch, who had a great influence on his future work. He set up his own business in 1956 for 2 years before joining with Miles to found Banks & Miles in 1958.
John Miles was also passionate about typography. He has been quoted saying, "We took up typography because we thought we'd make the world a better place". On leaving Maidstone School of Art, Miles became assistant to Hans Schmoller at Penguin Books until the start of Banks & Miles.
Banks & Miles built its reputation early on with their work for the Zoological Society London and on the Consumers’ Association, Which? Magazine, that they worked on for 29 years, between 1964 and 1993. It had it’s heyday in the 70’s and 80’s, with blue chip clients like the Royal Mail, British Telecom and the London Underground. The duo designed the familiar Royal Mail/ Post Office double-lined typeface and identity in 1972, a project which ran for 11 years, the British Telecom ‘T’ logo after it was instituted in 1981, logos for Her Majesty's Stationery Office, City & Guilds and Lancaster University. Along with employee, Eiichi Kono they restyled the UK telephone directories in 1989 saving forests of paper and winning numerous accolades from environment groups and re-designed, Johnston, Edward Johnston’s underground typeface, to create New Johnston.
In 1996 Banks & Miles disbanded their joint venture to persue individual projects. John Miles was adviser to the Dutch banknote printers Enschedé, The Monotype Corporation and HMSO and is still a practising designer today. Colin Banks traveled India and Europe teaching his socially responsible approach to design, which earned him some significant commissions and awards, but sadly in 2002 he died after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind a great legacy of work.
Both together and individually they have created some of the most ground-breaking and most iconic work of the 20th Century, and as Banks often said, “good design doesn't date” and I couldn’t agree more.
BT Van pics copyright David Cott.