Dennis’ Le Corbusier-inspired brand for Barcelona’s Chandigarh Café explores the joy of modernism
Established in reference to the bright, modernist cafe interiors of the mid-20th century, Barcelona’s Chandigarh Café, named after the Le Corbusier-designed North Indian city, is a harmonious space for its clientele to soak in mid-century artistry and enjoy exquisite cuisine. Vibrant in form, contrast and spatial tension, the café is one unlike most and subsequently needed an identity to match. As a result, Chandigarh Café turned to London and Barcelona-based design studio Dennis to channel the architectural manner and inspiration of the café, resulting in a punchy, memorable identity that showcases the joy and vibrancy that can be expressed through modernist principles.
Sitting at the core of the identity is Chandigarh Café’s namesake, with the city itself inspiring every corner of the brand; beginning with the unique, bespoke lettering crafted for the logomark. “We were influenced by various architectural features of Chandigarh,” Founder and Creative Director Josh Nathanson tells us, noting the particular influence of the High Court and the Palace of the Assembly as prominent influences. “We took inspiration from the large organic cut-out forms and soft curves that contrast the otherwise brutalist concrete structures,” he adds, intentionally rounding the letterform’s corners to convey a greater sense of warmth and frivolity in place of the prior brutalist tone. “The Chandigarh inspiration goes beyond the name and logo,” Nathanson notes, “influencing the interiors with walls painted in bold colours, seating adorned with modernist lamps and chairs,” the latter of which were initially designed for the city of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier’s cousin Pierre Jeanneret.
The joyful Chandigarh-inspired colours are systematically applied across the identity, routinely pairing light colours with their dark counterparts. “We limited the palette to two dark colours and three light colours,” Nathanson explains, discussing the six possible colour combinations. “These ensure that it’ll hold together as a cohesive identity while providing just enough variety,” Nathanson notes, “other than that, there is no hierarchy, no primary brand colour, it’s pretty free and democratic,” adding, “which hopefully would have pleased Le Corbusier!”
Supporting the bespoke letterforms and the colour palette is the use of Grilli Type’s GT Ultra as the secondary body typeface; a feature pragmatically applied across the brand’s digital and physical matter. “We chose GT Ultra as the supporting typeface because, like Chandigarh Café,” Nathanson recalls, “it’s informed by the past and crafted for the future,” suggesting how at first glance, it appears like a traditional, mid-century typeface until further inspection. “When you look more carefully there are some lovely organic details, unexpected curves and a certain chunkiness to it,” Nathanson concludes, “that fit beautifully with the aesthetic we were after.”