Leeds-based design agency Rabbithole has designed a new visual identity for Hyde Park Picture House (HPPH), the world’s last gaslit cinema.
Featuring a Technicolor palette and a cue mark-inspired logo, the identity looks to the venue’s cinematic heritage, from the Edwardian, 1914 building that houses it, to the two Twentieth-century Cinemecannica 35mm projectors still in use.
Rabbithole had been working on the project for 18 months since early 2022, says director Mark Martin. Coinciding with a three-year closure as the cinema underwent a £4.8m redevelopment by architects Page/Park, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Leeds City Council and the Garfield Weston Foundation, it was a perfect time for a “new beginning” for the venue, he says.
As previous residents of the Hyde Park area of Leeds, and familiar with the HPPH team, the studio was invited to pitch for the project.
“It was one of those briefs where’ you’re navigating contradictions or tensions that can feel like polar opposites”, says Martin. Working with a carefully renovated building with plenty of history, it was both “very much a heritage project”, while also being a “super trendy” venue, he says. As a venue serving a local community, showing mainstream as well as arthouse films, there was the added challenge of it wanting “to be for everyone”, Martin adds.
For the core elements of the identity, the team went back to a cinematic reference – the circular cue marks or “cigarette burns” that indicate a film change to the projectionist – with its overlapping edges splitting out into the new logo drawn by Rabbithole.
The logo is also animated, with its lines multiplying and spinning to mimic the rotation of the Victorian moving-image technology of a zoetrope.
When static, the main logo uses a yellow hue, which Martin comments is frequently used in cinema branding, and works well in front of moving image as it is able to “punch out” from the colours behind. When animated, the yellow breaks into the colours of Technicolor.
This animation also becomes an ident for the cinema, accompanied by music created in-house at Rabbithole, by a team member who is also a musician and producer.
For Martin, idents are a deeply nostalgic element of a cinema visit, and he can distinctly recall both childhood trips to a nearby Odeon, as well as one of HPPH’s previous idents – and hopes that this new one will in time have the same impact.
Technicolor also informs the colour palette that is used to differentiate HPPH sub-brands. Relating to the cinema’s very different curatorial strands and audiences, these range from the “midnight screenings of [horror film] Creatures of the Night” to the “memory matinee” which serves an older crowd, Martin says.
Rabbithole has used the same framing device from the logo for each, but translated into different colours, to create “a consistent thread running through those sub brands”, he adds.
In addition, each of the sub-brands has an individual typeface, chosen from a range of foundries. According to Martin, these two elements are a “straightforward aspect” of the design but can easily and succinctly communicate what is necessary to HPPH’s audiences.
The identity is being applied to HPPH’s website, posters, signage, lightboxes, programmes and idents, working alongside Page/Park’s internal wayfinding and interior renovation.