The wondrous world of London Letterforms

Things to do in London
Hidden messages in London’s typography

"Fascinating", "surprising", "brilliant", Design Week's Picks of the month, a roaring success at Soho House.

This is the evocative story of London street signs and what they communicate to us, often on a subconscious level.

Join author Sarah Hyndman for a joyous and activity-filled session in the Type Tasting studio exploring London’s letterforms and street signs as you uncover their hidden messages. This is a wonderful introduction that gives you insider-knowledge of London, and is a fun way to discover why typography is so exciting.

This session was a roaring success when it launched at Soho House. Due to popular demand it will now run on an occasional basis from the ephemera-filled Type Tasting studio. This is in an old Victorian chocolate factory overlooking a pretty cobbled courtyard, nestled on the edge of Dalston in London.

Suitable for all, no prior experience of (or interest in) typography is necessary. This engaging session will open your eyes to what’s around you every day, and shed light on some of the instinctive choices you make.

Duration 2.5 hours, £65. Five earlybird tickets for each session, £55, grab ’em quick!

Book now

Sunday 23rd June, 3pm–5.30pm (sold out)

Sunday 14th July, 10.30am–1pm (sold out)

Sunday 14th July, 3pm–5.30pm

Sunday 18th August, 10.30am–1pm

Sunday 18th August, 3pm–5.30pm

Half and full-day options are ideal for students visiting London, private sessions are available on request.

“Spent a fascinating afternoon with Sarah Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter. The Hidden Messages in London’s Typography workshop was a great exploration of type and letterforms. Very thought provoking, entertaining and surprising!” Julia.

“A brilliant afternoon where we've learned so many stories behind the type all around us!” Alke

Hidden messages in London's typography
Hidden messages in London's typography
Hidden messages in London's typography
Hidden messages in London's typography

What’s provided

• Snacks and tasters will be served during the workshop to bring different stories to life. Since we’re in an old chocolate factory, we’ll end with a multisensory chocolate tasting in true Willy Wonka-esque style.

• Lashings of tea and coffee.

• You’ll be provided with a sketchbook to scribble in, drawing materials and colour-in information sheets. You’ll also leave armed with type-themed activities to take part in.

What to bring

Your curiosity.

Workshop photo by Sam Roberts, Better Letters.

Workshop photo by Sam Roberts, Better Letters.

About your host

Author Sarah Hyndman is your tour guide for this hands-on and interactive masterclass. She will show you how the street signs of London reveal amazing layers of history, and that inform your decision making — often on a subconscious level. From the pictograms and heraldic motifs of the Middle Ages, through to current day trends in typography.

Sarah Hyndman is the author of ‘Why Fonts Matter’. She is a TEDx speaker, a regular on radio (BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth with Michael Rosen, Saturday Live, Today.) and TV (Sunday Brunch). Sarah is a multisensory typography expert and collaborates on studies with Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford.

Photo by Juliana Johnston.

Photo by Juliana Johnston.

Photo by Aya Watanbe.

Photo by Aya Watanbe.


The workshop will take place in the Type Tasting studio on the first floor of a converted Victorian Chocolate Factory overlooking a pretty cobbled courtyard surrounded by artist’s studios. It is nestled in a quiet street between Dalston and Stoke Newington (please note that access is via an external metal staircase). The nearest stations are Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland, and there are plenty of buses (the nearest stop is Princess May Road).

The Chocolate Factory’s pretty cobbled courtyard.

The Chocolate Factory’s pretty cobbled courtyard.

More about the session

This is an immersive and multisensory journey through time, type and semiotics from past history to future trends all served up with sound and activities.

Learn how to take a closer look at the city streets to discover how new and preserved signs narrate three centuries of letterforms. Understand what these tell you about the social and cultural development of an area and spot ‘secret’ clues that are hidden in their shapes.

Ultimately you will learn how the signage in the urban environment documents an area’s unique visual DNA, and how this brings the history of typography to life as it takes it out of the textbook and places it in your everyday life.

“You will never walk down a London high street in the same way again. Sarah’s love of her subject is infectious and her knowledge is impressive.” Heather

“Sarah’s passionate knowledge of this fascinating subject is wonderfully infectious.” Simon

“I learnt so much, not only about the history of type, but also about the enormous (and surprising!) impact it has on our perception of the world around us.” Dean

“Fantastic; thought provoking, and what’s more - fun!” Dan

“I would definitely recommend it for people wanting to look at London in a different way and understand it’s history and culture.” Muruku

“You will never look at shop signage and street architecture in the same way again.” Zoë

“Sarah’s enthusiasm is incredible, it’s really great to see someone so passionate about what they do and sharing it with others, I think that’s what’s really different about London.” Michelle

“Why isn’t typography always taught this way?” Ruchi

The wondrous world of London Letterforms

On a longer half or full-day session we get out the paints and charcoal and roll up our sleeves to get messy drawing letterforms.

This session is inspired by the Dalston Type Safaris that Sarah ran for five years. Read about them in the Londonist, and about her love of street signs in the Big Issue.

Workshop photo by Sam Roberts, Better Letters.

Workshop photo by Sam Roberts, Better Letters.


Please get in touch with Sarah if you have any questions or would like to organise a private session for your group or organisation.