Pentagram’s super smiley identity for Happy Face pizzeria

Partners Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell have created a cute smiling face mascot for the London-based, 1970s Italy-inspired restaurant, along with a host of other illustrated characters

If there’s one thing that Londoners don’t need more of, it’s hipster pizza joints. Opening up a new pizzeria in the capital these days means having to bravely pit yourself against the likes of sourdough veterans Franco Manca, Homeslice’s super-sized slices and Neapolitan purists Pizza Pilgrims, to name just a few.

This doesn’t seem to have put off Patrick Clayton-Malone, the man behind King’s Cross bar-cum-radio studio Spiritland. Also based in King’s Cross, Neapolitan pizza restaurant Happy Face is the latest venture from the Spiritland team and is focused on casual all-day dining, with a 70s Italian disco-inspired cocktail bar called SUPERMAX tucked beneath it for those looking to stay out a little later.

Photo: Andrew Meredith
Photo: Andrew Meredith

Happy Face’s interiors nod to Clayton-Malone’s obsession with 1970s Italy, with influences ranging from radical Italian architecture practice SuperStudio to the flamboyant typefaces on Italo Disco album covers.

Having worked with Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell before on the branding for Spiritland, Clayton-Malone commissioned the Pentagram partners to help bring the visual identity for the restaurant to life.

Photo: Andrew Meredith

The identity centres around the Happy Face roundel; a charming, illustrated logo featuring a smiling face which (hopefully) resembles what punters’ faces will look like after chowing down on one of its pizzas. “[The team] was interested in the idea that a single illustration – the simple, happy expression on a face – could hold everything we needed to say,” says Powell.

The Happy Face logo is accompanied by a group of cute, illustrated icons including a pizza slice, ice cream, lemon and disco ball, which take inspiration from Italian cartoons from the 60s and 70s. “Happy Face is the main character, and the other elements [are] his friends, who hang out in the daytime restaurant, before partying downstairs at the disco,” says Powell.

A vibrant colour palette of green and yellow is used throughout, and the partners worked with type designer Bobby Tannam to create bespoke font Happy Face Display, which is inspired by a logo for the Galleria D’Arte L’Incontro in Italy that Tannam rediscovered in an old school book.

With its playful identity and distinctive illustrated mascot, Happy Face somehow manages to stand out in a sea of pizza places all vying for our tastebuds’ attention. “Hopefully it stands out because it’s fun,” says Powell. “That’s not to say we didn’t take the development of the primary font, the choice of which ‘happy face’ from hundreds to choose, and the character illustrations very seriously.”