Vol. 13: Overhanging Signs in Europe (Warsaw)

Poland, the land that gave birth to the poet of the piano, Chopin, and to that great scientist, Marie Curie, has had to endure a tragic history owing to its geographical location between Germany and Russia. The streets of Warsaw were totally destroyed during the Second World War, and a good 85 percent of the city was rebuilt from the ashes after the end of the war. In particular, the area known as the Old Town has been faithfully rebuilt down to the last detail on the basis of surviving detailed drawings. The stone-paved square has been recreated as it was in the Middle Ages, when horse-drawn vehicles traveled through it.

The signs of the cafes and the souvenir shops were no doubt designed after the area had been rebuilt, but they blend perfectly with the antiquated look of the streets while at the same time having a modern feel about them. I was enormously impressed by every single one, and found it impossible to pick the best. Japanese signs, whether they be of metal or plastic, create a flat impression because they are made out of paneling materials. In contrast, the signs in Warsaw are generally made by casting or forging, as a result of which they possess the warmth of the handmade within their weighty and ample forms. Skilled craftsmen with impeccable abilities and taste remain to this day and are devoting their energies to the creation of signs.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association