Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays

Design studio B.A.M. on the process behind creating a new identity for White Cube

B.A.M. a London based design and art direction studio founded by David McKendrick and Lee Belcher, joined us at January’s Nicer Tuesdays to discuss its rebranding of White Cube.

The multi-disciplinary duo has a wide-spanning portfolio that stretches from fashion campaigns to editorial design and beyond. “We do a lot of commissioned photography, illustration and video. That’s quite a big part of our studio, we’re not just graphic designers,” Lee and David explained to the Nicer Tuesdays audience.

B.A.M.’s latest venture, creating a new identity for White Cube, saw the studio take inspiration from the gallery’s interior and the work it houses. Highlighting the importance of not detracting attention from the latter, B.A.M. set about making subtle but groundbreaking changes to a branding format that hasn’t changed in 25 years. “The White Cube space is a very pure, beautiful and architectural space so design wise we wanted it to be about the elements that were there and how they spatially relate to each other, rather than it be about adding graphics to hold all this information they didn’t need,” Lee told the crowd.

Focusing on three core factors – the grid, the typeface and the colour palette – the duo created an identity that was no longer just suited to print but also worked for all of the gallery’s digital communications, of which forms 90-95% of its total output. “With the typeface, we found because it had to work across so many things, from vinyl in the gallery to a small caption on a phone, we needed something quite robust and versatile.”

The typeface David and Lee settled on was Beausite, a high contrast sans serif, designed by Yassin Baggar of Fatype and customized for the identity under B.A.M.’s direction. Lee, with examples of the different variations displayed on screen, explained that Beausite “comes in multiple weights of contrast, so you can use it for fine detail and you can use it for large, elegant graphics.” When it came to printed matter however, he added that “it can hold a nice bit of jazzy colour as well.”

“On the note of colour, it’s important to recognise that the White Cube has never had any – I think the name says it all,” David added. “They functioned with an identity that worked purely in black and white, so partly as a challenge we tried to introduce them to some colour.” He goes on to explain how the duo demonstrated to White Cube that a subtle colour palette can make all the difference.

B.A.M. rounded off its talk by showcasing its identity guidelines book created for the gallery which, though they don’t see it as a bible that must be adhered to, helps to provide a workable foundation. “There’s a huge part of the White Cube identity that needs to be put out by people that aren’t designers…so hopefully this made it clear what the basis of the identity was.”

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