London — For a road sign to be a road sign it needs to be placed in proximity to traffic. Inevitably, it is only a matter of time before someone drives into the pole. If the pole is sturdy, the results may be fatal.

A delightful new book about the underappreciated wonders of good design explains a solution. The poles that support street furniture are often mounted on a “slip base”, which joins an upper pole to a mostly buried lower pole using easily breakable bolts...

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