The Beams is ‘an expansive new venue and occasion house on the Royal Docks within the coronary heart of East London’ (that’s so long as you favor your cartography loosely impressionist). Manchester-based Solely Studio was tasked with branding the previous Tate & Lyle sugar manufacturing unit. The award-winning company has earlier type within the area of London industrial-eyesores-turned-cultural-juggernauts: it was additionally chargeable for the spectacular rebrand of the (now tragically demolished) Printworks. The elegant rolling emblem and model vocabulary was memorable, laconic, cool and only a tiny bit menacing – every part you need from a nightclub. Can Solely rating one other home-run?
To explain this work as ‘type-led’ could be an understatement. In actuality, there may be little extra to this model than the cool Swiss serenity of Neue Haas Grotesk. That, and extra restraint than a rollercoaster seatbelt. And truthfully, little else is required.
Neue Haas Grotesk is Business Kind’s fantastic reincarnation of Max Miedinger’s Helvetica prototype. It was accomplished for Richard Turley’s 2010 redesign of Bloomberg Businessweek as a restoration undertaking, bringing the letterforms again to life with as a lot constancy to Miedinger’s unique shapes and spacing as potential. Miedinger’s model included numerous attention-grabbing alternates, together with a placing straight-legged ‘R’, initially out there by particular order solely, however now straightforward to entry in digital type (though Solely have opted to not use this distinctive character, sticking nearer to the traditional Helvetica styling that Neue Haas Grotesk grew into).
No thrives are expended on the emblem. It’s only by case – being set in all-caps (with fractionally tighter monitoring) – that it’s distinguished from in any other case typically sentence-case typography. This deep understatement suavely permits the main target to remain on the DJ, artist, film-maker (or company occasion) that’s occupying the Beams.
This seemingly frictionless emblem does create one small snag although. Anybody who’s ever had the misfortune of talking to a person at a houseparty will inevitably have skilled a weirdly antagonistic dialog about music, by which cultural cachet is leveraged by correcting you on whether or not or not a band/artist requires a determinative correct article – ‘umm really it’s simply “Pixies”, not “the Pixies”’. This most cherished technique of boring blokes in band-tees has been cannily (or unintentionally) deployed by (the?) Beams, producing pedantic confusion but in addition, crucially, hauteur. Whereas the venue is ‘The Beams’ as each a bodily (see Google Maps) and digital vacation spot (www.thebeamslondon.com), that prefixing article is eschewed within the emblem, guaranteeing that some will deploy it and a few won’t, affording each side the chance to condescendingly right the opposite, and consequently fostering a sense of cool affinity from the corrector and jilted aspirational longing from the correctee. Effectively performed the Beams.
No matter we name it, in response to Solely, the identify ‘speaks to the factory-style mild wells within the roof that flood the primary house with pure mild, and signifies its function in supporting and showcasing new expertise, activations, productions and experiences’. This touches on one of many key ideas of the identification: to replicate the actual architectural tone of this cavernous, obtrusive, post-industrial house. Solely goes on to elucidate that ‘A dynamic typographic therapy is used to reflect the repetition seen all through the constructing’s structure and to determine a reference to using mild in lots of the venue’s cultural choices.’
This therapy takes the type of repetitions alongside a linear axis (very similar to these achieved with the ‘mix’ device in Adobe Illustrator). Some are extra profitable (and legible) than others. Prime of the pile are the headings on the homepage, which collapse into themselves as you scroll – very cool. The truth is, many of the typography works properly when animated parts are launched. The movement model of the emblem is one other satisfying consequence.
When the typographic therapies are introduced as static designs, nonetheless, they’re extra controversial, significantly when repetition happens alongside a horizontal (quite than vertical or diagonal) axis. This results in most overlap of letters and minimal legibility. This difficulty is additional exacerbated in a billboard instance, by which the emblem is given this therapy, by the actual fact of the letters being set in all-caps, with no x-height differentials providing even a imprecise clue as to what letters are contained throughout the pseudo-Carson-esque tangle. If this billboard was your first publicity to BEAMS (as a billboard typically is), it might be totally affordable to misconstrue it as a very hip Northern bakery, bringing BARMS to the eye of Londonders, or that maybe a highly-organised cabal of BEARS had devised and printed their very own promotional marketing campaign, hampered solely by clumsy paws on tiny keyboards. That is, after all, facetious and misses the purpose that you’re maybe not supposed to have the ability to learn the lettering, however like the paradox about whether or not it’s Beams or the Beams, there’s a whiff of superciliousness about it.
To streamline the creation of those sort therapies, Solely has thoughtfully developed a easy however efficient design producing device, providing a restricted set of easy parameters for dimension and place, in addition to variety of repetitions and canvas ratio. The device is a restricted instance of its form (see DIA’s work on smlXL for extra complexity), but it surely successfully covers just about all the probabilities for model paintings. The simplicity serves as a reminder that this undertaking excels in proving that a lot will be carried out with little – it’s a poetic train in minimalism.
Pictures from Marcus Ginns and Henry Woide gives essential stability to the typography. Grain, light-flares and weird compositions present welcome aid from the strict grids and medical monochrome that dominates elsewhere. The color images is especially profitable, bringing some life and levity, and reflecting the colourful cultural scene that Beams hopes to turn out to be residence to. By way of the inner logic (by which the model is meant to be a mirrored image of the architectural house), the color images additionally works properly, choosing up on a few of the incongruous colored parts within the constructing – crimson heating ducts that run across the tops of the partitions, the heat of the unpainted exterior brick. This considered software feels true to each the bodily actuality and cultural ambition of the house. When scrolling by Beam’s meticulously neat Instagram feed, it’s reassuring to see that the advertising staff quickly switched from predominantly black-and-white squares to vividly colored photographs that nonetheless protect the austere art-direction.
To summarise, Solely’s identification for BEAMS is a masterful achievement. It performs the branding equal of stealing a red-carpet with nothing however slightly black (or on this case white) gown. This can be very troublesome to look so good sporting so little.