A shopping street in Madrid called Calle de Toledo
Calle de Toledo, Madrid. Image: Patrick Mueller (Wikimedia), CC BY 2.0

Saving Spain and Portugal’s shop signs

In Spain and Portugal, there are multiple projects with a very specific goal: protecting commercial signs in these two countries as part of their heritage.

A growing network

Commercial signs might not be the first thing we associate with cultural heritage, but they are an important part of the cities we live in. That’s how many people in Spain and Portugal feel, which made them start projects to protect these signs. Some of these projects collect physical signs in hopes of creating a museum one day, while others have made online catalogues with pictures. About 50 of these projects are now united in a network called the Iberian Network in Defence of Graphic Heritage.

The importance of the signs

The idea behind saving these signs is that commercial signs are a sort of ‘everyday’ heritage, as opposed to castles and expensive art. Alberto Nanclares of the Iberian Network describes it as ‘heritage for the rest of us’. The signs have often been around for decades and can reflect graphic design trends, among other things. Another important factor is that these signs belong to independent stores that have gone out of business. After they’re gone, they’re usually replaced by chain stores. So, collecting the signs isn’t just about appreciating their designs: it’s about saving part of a city’s individuality.

If you’re interested, you can check out Iberian Network in Defence of Graphic Heritage (in Spanish), Letreiro Galeria on Instagram, Valladolid con Caracter and Paco Graco (both in Spanish).

Source: The Guardian

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