Now perhaps known to most as the yah-trilling hunting ground of the Sloane Ranger, West London’s King’s Road has a lively past. It began life in 17th century as King Charles II’s private road; miniskirt maverick Mary Quant opened her first store Bazaar there in 1955; and it briefly became epicentre of punk in the 70s with Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Sex, the boutique that essentially formed the Sex Pistols.
The area is currently undergoing huge redevelopment led by property developer Cadogan, and with support from local businesses and Kensington and Chelsea council. The regeneration plan covers everything from retail to public realm, including the reincarnation of Rosetti Studios (named after the poet Gabriel Dante Rossetti) as a subsidised workspace for artists, and the ongoing renovation of the historic Gaumont Palace Theatre, which will include an art house cinema, rooftop restaurant, retail and a new pub.
Winkreative was brought in to create a refreshed visual identity and website to go with the area’s new look, and to help it compete with cooler, younger shopping hubs such as Spitalfields and the recently unveiled Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross.
“Over the past few decades in London, the creative compass has been pointing more eastwards, but today the King’s Road finds itself at another key moment of its life,” says Winkreative Creative Director Maurus Fraser. “The rich history of the road is an incredible and endless mine of inspiration, but in essence, the more we understood the past of the road, the more we realised that its identity should be firmly focused on the future, with reinvention at its core.”
Launched to coincide with the opening of an exhibition on the life and work of Mary Quant at the V&A (of which the King’s Road is a main sponsor), the new identity takes a heavily typographic approach, and centres around a bold, sans serif logotype.
“We wanted the logo to be clear, but also playful and dynamic,” says Fraser. “We split the word mark and stacked it across the ‘S’ of the King’s Road. The headline designs are principally built up in the same way, giving the identity system a feeling of constant movement.”
The studio also created a ‘KR’ monogram as a nod to the road’s founder, after learning that King Charles II signed off all his letters with a calligraphic ‘R’ (an abbreviation of the latin word for King, Rex), which also shared a resemblance with an italicised lowercase ‘k’.
The imagery across the identity and website sees the hyper-saturated, colour-popping photographs of Alexander Coggin play off Alice Meteignier’s characterful illustrations to conjure up a visual world that glories in the past, present and future of King’s Road.
“[Coggin] has a clarity and natural playfulness that was key for us to be able to capture the many sides of life on the Kings Road. He has people watching down to an art form, with a natural ability to put his subjects at ease. We wanted the images to be candid and natural, capturing real people and moments along the road, always accented with an eye catching pop of colour,” says Fraser.
“On the other hand, Alice’s illustrations allowed us to show another side of the visual world. Her style has naivety which gives a feeling that it’s drawn effortlessly in an instant and cleverly manages to get ideas across in a few brush strokes,” Fraser adds.
The regeneration of the road comes at a tough time for the high street, when retailers are being forced to become more imaginative about creating spaces people actually want to spend time in. The new King’s Road website hopes to address this fact, featuring an editorial section called Spotlight that will profile local businesses such as sustainability-focused fashion brand The Cotton Story, as well as a Spotify playlist that nods to the road’s illustrious musical history.
“For high street retail destinations to flourish again, we need to consider them as places and not just a collection of shops and services,” says Fraser. “When brands invest in people, communities and the neighbourhood, we will all come.”