Signs of Times

One of my greatest pet peeves in Belgrade is the ugly signage that is endlessly sprouting up on the facades. Garish colours, flashing lights and comic sans fonts, printed for a few thousand dinars and hung on cheap metal are calling you to eat at this or that bakery, exchange money here or buy crap there.

The sad thing is that, back in the day, even up to early 2000s, signs were carefully designed and often painted or crafted by expert craftspeople and were pleasing to the eye. They did not protrude, like tumours from the buildings but clung onto them gently, adding a certain elegance to them.That was of course, back in the day when not any idiot could design their own signs with rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop and rebranding was not a few clicks away.

Beautiful fonts were carefully chosen or, in the case of iconic ones like Politika or FEST, created to confer a sense of seriousness, elegance or playfulness. Logos were made with care and some of them are still ingrained into the collective psyche even if new, uglier designs have been in use for a while or the companies were long gone – like Putnik’s shield, PTT’s (Serbian Post) weird cursive or JAT’s egg.

I was happy to that the  practice of keeping old, elegant signage is present in Italy where shops often keep their signs from 1960s and 70s, rather than replace them with ugly sticky new things.

Anyhow, there are still a few beautiful old signs remaining in Belgrade, mostly in the parts that are both forgotten by visitors and new investors like the Belgrade Port area, and we should savour them as long as we can.

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