LA’s storied Chateau Marmont has inspired a typeface

Astrae Studio based its Chateau typeface on the ‘medieval’ shapes of the Hollywood hotel’s logo

Chateau Marmont is a part of Hollywood legend. Frequented by celebrities from F Scott Fitzgerald to Dorothy Parker, Courtney Love to Quentin Tarantino, it has also appeared in multiple movies and works of literature, plus is notorious for the deaths of both John Belusi, who died of a drug overdose in Bungalow 3, and Helmet Newton, who was killed in a car crash leaving the hotel’s driveway.

After a 2019 visit to the iconic hotel, the founders of Astrae Studio decided to pay homage to its logo and merchandise – which is set in Libra, a typeface designed by S H de Roos in 1938. Although the pair loved the 92-year-old hotel’s “gothic glamour” and “ice cube-filled pissoirs”, they hadn’t expected to fall in love with its typography. So, once back in their home town of Copenhagen, they set about creating an updated version of Libra.

The original typeface takes inspiration from pre-Carolingian uncial letters, which date back more than a thousand years – explaining the design’s vaguely medieval look. Astrae wanted to create a version of Libra that would be more contemporary and versatile. The original mixed upper and lower case, and also used a hard-to-recognise ‘d’ that more closely resembled an ‘o’ or other medieval symbol.

“Libra is very unstructured in its design,” founders Carl-Emil Storm Gabrielsen and Jesper Uttrup told CR. “The curves, serifs and thickness of the letters vary a lot. This is definitely what makes the font charming, but in many instances these quirks make it hard to use – especially for longer texts. So we have done our best to reach a balance between keeping some oddities and creating a more streamlined font.”

Chateau took around six months to complete, with Gabrielsen and Uttrup describing the project as a reminder of sunnier, pre-lockdown times at the LA hotel. He says the studio is hoping to collaborate with Chateau Marmont on its merchandise sometime in the future.

Chateau is available to buy, priced €13; astrae.studio/chateau

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes