La Muette, a time capsule of French advertising posters

Old advertisements revealed at La Muette. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

Thanks to a friend who alerted me to this link posted on the AIGA site, (thanks Dave C!) I have a cool little moment in design to share here.

Like all cities, civilization and history continually build on top of itself. One really lovely case in point is the renovations as we would say in English, also known as décarrossage in French, to denote the deconstruction of a previous style or building, of parts of La Muette Metro station in Paris, where for a short time in 2009, demolished walls revealed layers upon layers of old posters and advertisements.

Lovely decay of several posters revealed at La Muette Metro station. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

It seems that simply pasting up new posters was so the norm when something new came along, that this system even went so far as to work for the construction of the typical Parisian white-arched tile and rather than bother to remove these posters, they were simply walled over.

Happily!

These posters and ads, long since forgotten probably just a few short years, if not months, after being enclosed behind sparkling white tile walls in the 1950’s & 60’s, were a surprise to a new generation of contractors and architects (under the direction and employ of the RATP’, Paris’ transportation organization) apparently when the tiled walls were broken down and these gems from the past were revealed. At times, the layers of posters were incredibly thick, as you can see below.

Dense with poster and board and posters. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

The article, History dans le Métro’, written by Gene Tempest, a doctoral history student currently studying in Paris can be read in it’s entirety here. It’s a very cool read with neat clues about the ages of many of the posters based on cultural changes, such as the one-time use and eventual discarding of Parisian phone numbers having a place name prefix, a bit like old-fashioned American ones. While ours were more created out of neat sounding memes (PENNSYLVANIA 6500!), the Parisian name-number combinations were geographically linked to the subscriber’s location.

Plus, the article mentions Haussmann’s impact & influence on Paris, a force which can never be overstated nor over-discussed in any of its positive or negative aspects. These photos are really beautiful, and as a designer and history geek…it’s pretty dang neat to see two loves linked together in Paris, even if it was fleeting.

A torn ad for a modern design school sat hiding behind seats for decades. (Photo: Paul Shamble. Click for more info or to read the article 'History dans le Métro'.)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “La Muette, a time capsule of French advertising posters

  1. Pingback: Made In.. « Lestaret’s Blog

  2. This is a very interesting post. Have the posters that are wedged in between older and newer ads been saved completely, or are they lost forever?

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