Though you could make a very good case for enforcing signage guidelines in the name of cohesive streetscapes and that most loaded promise of good taste, sometimes there’s an example that’s so maximal and delightful that it seems like we’re very fortunate not to have subdued it. I’m going to tentatively suggest that Frank’s might be king of the all-in shopfronts.


The shop sits on a particularly wide footpath on North Frederick Street, and the shop opens out onto half of the path’s width, merging with the street without any obstruction. It’s a stark difference between the closed state (shutters down, red framed in yellow) and the open (revealing all yellow everything), and quite delightfully, you can see both (open and visible from space on satellite, closed on Street View) in Google Maps.

The relationship to the street seems to fit well with the market-like nature of the shop, with the possibility of finding anything and everything, and getting a good bargain out of it too.


Quite seriously, there’s something about the relatively limited colour palette (red, yellow, black, white) and the sheer relentlessness in the signage that makes it a visually exciting landmark as the north city draws a little bit apart from the core of the city centre. There are so many words that they swim a bit, with a few more jumping out the longer you stare. Some are very specific – READING GLASSES – and some sweep categories around the other – if DELPH is too functional to be a subset of FANCY GOODS, then SWEEPING BRUSH and LIGHTBULBS must fit under HARDWARE for sure.


The signage (which includes stars and arrows and keys along with letters and numbers of various sizes) looks like it combines some hand-lettering and some stickers. It’s an intensely manmade thing, putting this energy into urging passers-by to get inspired to buy a mop bucket or a year’s supply of candles. At the very least, it’s a very strong sales pitch for some red gloss paint and a jumbo pack of alphabet stickers.


It’s hitting the visitors (maps, souvenirs) and the local residents (mops, bins, mattresses) alike, and if you don’t think you need anything, I recommend standing outside taking photos for a while just so you can come home and remember, say, that you’d needed to get a bloody key cut.


And if you did that, you might enjoy even more that the shop spans two units, united under the words KEYS CUT.


View Larger Map