DNCO has developed the name, brand strategy and brand identity for The Manufactory, a collection of restored buildings on the Tottenham Court Road site home to furniture company Heal’s for over 200 years.
In the mixed creative reuse development by General Projects in partnership with investors KKR and architects Buckley Gray Yeoman, Heal’s will retain a flagship store within the Grade II* listed building redesigned for the company by Cecil Brewer in 1916. The upper floors and a former mattress factory will become office space for The Manufactory, with a public-facing cafe and gallery located in the store’s former loading bays in Alfred Mews.
The Manufactory aims to attract “the next generation of tech and creative businesses”, says DNCO strategist Brenda Sjahrial. “We had the opportunity to turn an iconic design and furniture-making institution into an equally exciting place for work,” she says.
Working with General Projects, a brand was developed that “respects the place’s heritage while [being] bold enough to stand on its own”, Sjahrial explains. Launched this week, it is in the process of being applied across on-site and online applications including signage, wayfinding, website and social media campaigns.
Senior designer Arianna Tilche explains that DNCO wanted to celebrate Heal’s history as “a place of craft and making” with design that “echoes this meticulous approach”.
A new typeface, Rouleur by Good Type Foundry, was chosen “to acknowledge the building’s past without becoming a pastiche”, Tilche says. Its “tall x-height and expanded characters” provided a “very strong contemporary presence, “while nodding to Heal’s craft heritage through the soft, rounded painterly details on certain letters like the R”.
Its usage, meanwhile, was inspired by “strong borders with recognisable thick rules” found in Heal’s archive posters and advertisements, Tilche says.
“Taking inspiration from this design language, we developed a typographic approach that frames and creates a container for content. We also introduced a more fluid approach where words weave themselves around and through the content itself”, she adds.
Colours are drawn from the building itself, taking a dark red from an accent within the façade tiles, gold and brass tones inspired by brass detailing in the joinery and bright red entrance signage from “old industrial hand-painted signs” found “forgotten in some corners of the building”, Tilche explains.
Heal’s cat mascot – inspired by the bronze statue on Heal’s spiral staircase – is also adopted for The Manufactory. Illustrator Abbey Lossing visualised the cat around the building “popping out of doors, sleeping in a nook on the stairs, climbing on a windowsill”, giving the identity a “playful feel”, Tilche says.
A line drawing by illustrator William Luz is used across website, tech packs and promotional materials to make sense of the buildings on the site.
“The Heal’s building, although easily recognisable from the outside, is an extremely complicated collection of buildings that were patched together through the years”, Tilche says.
The “intricate, yet playful” line drawing not only shows the different buildings and their entrances, but “does so with an uplifting character that reveals the buzzing life inside”, she explains.
Tilche adds that “The same playful approach applies to the website design, where the cursor follows you through the screen, wrapping around itself and even giving you the opportunity to wake up the sleeping cat at the bottom of the screen if you so wish.”
Further to the roll out across external wayfinding, façade, on-floor marketing, website and social media campaigns, DNCO is currently working on internal wayfinding and future campaigns.