The venue’s history has been varied. Originally built in 1936 as an art deco cinema called The Savoy, it stopped showing films in 1984 (its last screening was Scarface, fact fans) and became a snooker hall and wedding venue. The main auditorium then lay derelict for 40 years until it was rediscovered in 2015.
It has now been taken on and restored by the team behind Shoreditch’s successful arts venue Village Underground and in its new incarnation will feature two venues – a theatre and concert hall – and a restaurant. The line up from September already looks pretty tasty, with a mix of music, art and literature events set to take place from its opening at the start of the month.
The identity and branding for EartH (which stands for Evolutionary Arts Hackney) has been created by 72andSunny Amsterdam, and draws in part on the building’s heritage. “The overall design language is a visual response to the expression and energy of music and performance, and then following a visit to the venue the physical space itself and what it represents really became my true source of inspiration,” says Richard Harrington, Director of Design at 72andSunny Amsterdam. “When you are inside the venue, it’s very, very powerful – a beautiful space that has been designed purely for people to come together and celebrate, congregate, and form community.”
The style of both the identity and wider branding – which features a simple circle shape and distinctive typography – is deliberately pared-back and elegant, Harrington explains, in the hope it will stand out on London’s visually busy streets.
“The design is a combination of several thoughts. Firstly the logomark for the venue is simple, we didn’t want this to be over-stylised or exclusive in any way, plus we felt it should be part of a much larger design language and brand experience. However the circle (a simple visual reference to planet Earth) as a consistent form throughout the language will play a big role as one of our branding assets, it will display image, it will respond to audio as motion and be a highlighting device for creative content.
“Music and performance have that power of creating a feeling of togetherness, and sometimes it can almost feel spiritual,” Harrington continues. “I was inspired by the visual patterns of geometric floor plans from buildings that are designed to hold many people, colourful data visualisations of seating plans and the coming together in religious buildings, sports stadiums and traditional concert halls etc.
“These powerful and recognisable geometric formations give us a very unique typographic system and structure plus, in combination with the circle form, will be the foundation of the total design language across all venue touchpoints. We are also currently developing a generative version of the overall language which will respond to sound and external data-driven social platforms, so the whole language becomes a live visualisation of sound and conversation that is currently happening in and around events.”
Village Underground consulted closely with the community in Dalston in the redevelopment of the building, and utilised the skills of local artists in its restoration. “We’ve had huge local support for the project, open days overflowing with neighbours and an outpouring of letters of support for the project, so we’re riding on a wave of their energy and enthusiasm,” says VU Founder Auro Foxcroft. “We’ve used local people and companies a lot in the project, from filmmakers to stained glass artists and we’ve got a focus on local artists in the programme. We’re an arts venue in the heart of a community.”
Future plans for the space include EartH working with the charity Community Music to transform a 100-metre-square basement space into a new education hub for young people. “We’ve got a crowdfunder going live on the August 29 to raise money for the education side of the project – rehearsal rooms and production suites,” says Foxcroft. “We’re partnering with Community Music who’ve been turning young peoples lives around through their love of music for more than 35 years, training up local people, many from difficult backgrounds.”
EartH opens in September. For info on upcoming events at the venue, see earthackney.co.uk