Campbell Hay’s identity for The Sans explores the past and present of the modernist office building
Originally built in 1962 and reimagined for 2022, the refurbished modernist office building The Sans provides a flexible workspace, driven by core values of democracy, accessibility and sustainability. For its flexible identity system, London-based brand consultancy Campbell Hay found inspiration in the heritage, material qualities, and architecture of the high-profile building.
The visual language champions the modernist theme to its limit – perfectly encapsulated in the name, which itself is a reference to the ‘less is more’ aesthetic and sans serif typefaces associated with the mid-century era. However, rather than mimic the minimalist perfectionism of corporate design of that time, Campbell Hay have given modernist features a contemporary twist, drawing upon the narrative of the building as a guideline. A custom grid was created from the structure of the building’s facade, which itself is a perfectly balanced pattern of windows. However, the studio opted for an unconventional use of space as tightly-packed and overflowing text is contrasted with heavy use of white space.
Scale is played with here too, with a responsive ‘S’ logo mark that stretches to exaggerated proportions, the corners of which hint at the building’s structural form. The bespoke lettering is supported by a contemporary sans serif typeface. Set in Dinamo’s Monument Grotesk, Design Lead Wai Ming Ng explains why it was the right fit for the identity. “We were looking for a sans serif that reflects the modernist nature of the architecture itself and chose Monument Grotesk because of its unrefined and raw aesthetic,” he tells us. “It’s a typeface that’s reinterpreted for contemporary use, something that mirrors the refurbishment of the 1960s building.” Meanwhile the name itself “was a nice extra,” as it conveniently suited the project’s theme.
Ng also explains that the building’s influence extends into the chosen colour palette. "We wanted a minimal colour palette and chose colours that were directly derived from the materials used in the building’s exterior: brick, concrete, steel and white concrete.”