Coventry University Logo
The Coventry University logo is perhaps the most prolific piece of public artwork in the City. It can be seen on every Coventry University Building in various forms, some carved out of stone or some cut out of metal.
Coventry University can trace its roots back to 1843 when the city set up the Coventry College of Design (later changed to Coventry College of Art). It was set up because Coventry did not have the artists to design silk ribbons and most designs came from France. The City saw the advantage of home grown trained artists. The design for the Coventry University logo is a homage to the silk ribbon industry and the Phoenix is a well recognised symbol of Coventry rising out of the ashes of destruction.
Coventry University Coat of Arms with the Phoenix in the centre – a bird rising out of the flames.
The first inspiration for the logo was a David Bethel piece of calligraphy created in the 1950’s. David Bethel (1923-2006) was an art lecturer who had moved from Stafford College of Art to be the Deputy Principal at Coventry College of Art (1956-65). Later he became the Principal (1965-69).
A David Bethel lino-cut at St. Mary’s Church, Colston Bassett.
The Coventry University logo design was executed in 1995 by the Graphic Design Company called ‘Negus and Negus’, a husband and wife company run by Dick Negus (1927-2011). He had become prominent during the 1960′ and 70’s following the Festival of Britain of 1951, which he called the most significant design influence on his life. He did work for some of the best known institutions in Britain including the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre, and British Overseas Airways.
The standing and reputation of ‘Negus & Negus’ was at its highest in the 1980s when design as a whole seemed finally to have “arrived”, particularly after it was publicly endorsed by Mrs Thatcher. Negus was among those invited to attend a seminar on the subject at 10 Downing Street. Almost as famous as Saatchi and Saatchi, who designed the Conservative election campaign, Negus and Negus designed the SDP campaign.
Dick Negus was a member of the Court at the Royal College of Art. Among other committees, he served for 25 years on the Post Office’s Stamps Advisory Committee. His client list broadened during this period to include a number of national organisations such as English Heritage, Royal Armouries, the Tower of London, National Maritime Museum, the National Theatre, the Science Museum and British Airways.