Printworks, a popular nightlife venue in south-east London, shuttered in early May after six years of parties. In a previous life, the gargantuan building had been a printing plant used by newspapers including the Evening Standard from 1989 until 2013. Now the location is on the cusp of transforming once again, into a workspace called the Grand Press, as part of a redevelopment project by British Land due to be completed in 2026.
DixonBaxi, which created the identity for the Grand Press, describes the branding as “industrial and functional with a human energy and spirit”, and says it was directly influenced by “the building’s past”. Distressed concrete, layered paint textures, ink splatters, and old stickers all play a part in the new design language, which contrast with sharp lines and shapes.
The palette also lifts from the space itself, including “structurally inspired neutrals” and two complementary colours: Grand Green, inspired by the original cladding, and Press Orange, which will appear in architectural details after the refurbishment. Meanwhile, the Grand Press logo – a minimal circular design divided into three sections – draws on signage found in the building in the past.
The new typeface seen throughout the identity, GT Cinetype, appears to be a simple sans-serif at first glance. However, when viewed more closely, the curves of each letterform are revealed to be a sequence of straight lines, with an angular, mechanical feel that once again evokes the space’s industrial links.
The brand world was first revealed to audiences in a film, also created by the team at DixonBaxi, which was screened at the Printworks building during a recent launch event.
“The Grand Press brand is rich and exciting with an edge not seen elsewhere in this sector, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us,” said Alex Maclean, head of marketing for the Canada Water division of British Land.
As well as referencing the building’s industrial origins, the new branding for the Grand Press is clearly a nod to its more recent function as a club. Between the technical grids and the stacked typographic treatments (like the layouts used by Printworks itself in the past), the visual language would be just as at home on club fly-posters or event listings.
Bringing aesthetics associated with nightlife and subculture into different contexts has been met with cynicism in the past. However, the association will likely be a draw for the businesses that look to move into the Grand Press, and the look and feel certainly veers from the norm when it comes to most place branding.
And while the emphasis is primarily on the workspace, which is set to take over the front half of the building, there are provisional plans in place to bring Printworks back to the space in some form (depending on planning permission), which might manage to achieve the impossible and keep everyone happy.