A first class return to St Pancras

In his first logo log, our new columnist looks at the identity for the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, designed by North

Design studio North’s identity for the newly-opened St Pancras Renaissance Hotel treads a careful line, just like the Eurostar trains that slowly snake their way into St Pancras International next door.

The identity could have sought to evoke the kind of barmy Victorian extravagance the building symbolised when it opened in 1873 as the Midland Grand Hotel. There’s no end of visual inspiration in its restored marble pillars, hand-painted ceilings, frescos, gargoyles and period lettering. Instead, perhaps to better fit the times, North went for restraint, and a respectfully contemporary typographic identity without a hint of a curlicue or serif.

The sturdy font (Effra by Bruno Maag) and all-caps logotype instead recall railway signage and romantic notions of train travel, of escaping to the continent. The bespoke ‘A’, repeated in the titling of the hotel’s facilities (Spa, Bar etc), references the diamond motifs that feature in the restored decoration, on the station clock, as well as in the pattern made by merging rail tracks. There’s a whisper of the old BR symbol in there, too.

Luxury and craftsmanship comes across in North’s suite of printed material, which puts the patterns found in the restored interiors to elegant use. The logo, however, shows how to channel tradition and character without running into the buffers of reproduction, pastiche or hotel-chain nothingness. A first class departure.

Michael Evamy is a copywriter and author of Logo (Laurence King). See evamy.co.uk

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