The strength of simplicity: Only’s identity for Beams uses type to unify community and culture
Mancunian design studio Only, renowned for their Printworks identity, have tackled another of East London’s contemporary cultural hubs: Beams. Located at the Royal Docks, the expansive, former factory space, covering 55,000 square feet, prides itself on being the ‘Centre for New Culture.’ Hosting an array of musical events and vibrant get-togethers, the venue champions the unheard and undiscovered. In order to unify the community and culture congregating at the avant-garde space, Only opted for an eminently stripped-back, typographic approach to the identity, utilising Neue Haas Grotesk to achieve as much.
“Neue Haas retains legibility even when used across our more extreme typographic blend examples,” Senior Designer Daniel Reed tells us, capitalising on the “air of neutrality and professionalism” that the sans serif exudes – a feat it accomplishes in whatever context is thrown its way, as Reed details, “from the more expressive and dynamic art exhibitions held at Beams to live dance music and events.” As such, the typographic treatment is generative, creating strikingly straightforward, dynamic layouts across digital and printed spaces. “We felt it was best to make the layouts minimal and refined,” Reed notes, “so the rest of the identity didn’t become difficult to absorb,” working as effectively across Beam’s physical, atmospheric space.
“As Beams also serves as a venue for hire,” he adds, “the backdrop needed to act as a clean, blank canvas for event providers,” approaching the colour palette in a similarly stark fashion. “With their varied content offering, keeping to a black and white palette allows Beams to express colour through photography and film,” Reed suggests, putting the art and artists at the centre. “The event space also acts as an art space and gallery,” he concludes, “so we wanted to avoid overpowering artists’ imagery on OOH applications or within the space,” culminating in the salient, serene and sharply simple identity, the timeless, unifying nature of which places talent and community at its heart.