The identity for London Centre for Book Arts by Studio Bergini represents the joy of materiality in graphic design

Working with the studio as collaborators as well as friends over the past few years, the London-based studio have taken a dialogic approach to this thoughtful identity revamp.

29 June 2021

As designers, London-based Studio Bergini have always been interested in the materiality of graphic design. Since establishing its practice after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015, its founders, Kristian Hjorth Berge and Francesco Corsini, have pushed and pulled design’s capabilities for the likes of the Charles Dickens Museum to Camden Art Centre and David Pearson. Usually, the aim is “for simple and straight forward communication in an identity,” says Kristian, but the pair are also beloved for their ability to add “an element of surprise or wonder that engages the viewer for a second.”

An embodiment of each of Studio Bergini’s creative characteristics is in its new identity for London Centre for Book Arts (LCBA). A typographic identity that heroes the LCBA’s ethos and product, it’s an identity which sings the praises of a local and incredibly hardworking business. It dives deep into its archive for typographic references and utilises as many printing techniques as possible given the context of its work.

Since founding the studio, “LCBA has been a bit of a second home for us,” Kristian tells It’s Nice That. When they first met, Studio Bergini were looking for a place to create some letterpress printing for a client, getting to know Simon and Ira who run LCBA in the process. Regularly returning for other projects, a close friendship and creative partnership began to grow. “We became good friends and neighbours, and regularly swap type references, book recommendations, and recipes,” continues Kristian. In 2018, following the studio's design for a mini identity of LCBA’s publishing project – A6Books – Studio Bergini were commissioned to design a new frontage for the centre, “which ended up being the starting point for thinking about the rebranding.”

This is the first factor which makes Studio Bergini’s identity for LCBA pretty unique – it’s not rushed. In contemporary design practices, we’re used to hearing about quick turnarounds and tight schedules, whereas this identity is the result of years of conversation and experimentation. Working with an open brief, LCBA first asked the studio to create a full visual identity revamp – separate from its website which is in the capable hands of Jacob Lindgren – “and the brief basically developed from there collaboratively between us and them,” says Kristian. The potential of the project was huge considering how all parties involved were friends and collaborators, and also due to LCBA’s notable members, history and references. In turn, the group took its time, developing the identity for the first year “through a dialogic process which allowed us to shape how the designs were taken up and used in real time, to give LCBA a tailored and really functional identity,” adds the studio co-founder.


Studio Bergini: London Centre for Book Arts (Copyright © Studio Bergini, 2021)

Anchoring this approach is Studio Bergini’s close attention to typographic elements. The identity relies heavily on two typefaces, Original Sans and Caslon Ionic from Commercial Classics, a new venture by foundry Commercial Type. Both are chosen with a locality in mind, with Caslon foundry’s last operating site being in the same neighbourhood as LCBA and found in old specimen books held in LCBA’s library.

Original Sans can be spotted in LCBA’s new logo mark, with a Bergini style twist of a small incision to the 'L' helping the word mark to be kerned better. All caps to spell LCBA, it’s a word mark which holds impact while retaining a quirk, as Kristian describes: “even if it’s punchy and bold it still has a friendly vibe to it.” Calson Ionic is then used for everything else at LCBA, across its regular and italic weights and in varying sizes and colours. Placed together, the pair “create a striking and utilitarian identity which emphasises and compliments the in-house printing processes well, be it letterpress, foil blocking or Risograph,” explains Kristian.

This level of thoughtfulness in the studio’s typography choices is then highlighted through printing – an element “equally as important to us as the typography in the brand communication of LCBA,” says the designer. Given the centre is quite literally a “treasure trove of printing and binding machinery, tools and materials, book cloths and paper stocks, as well as beautiful books, both historical and brand new”; where possible, the identity had to communicate this. The majority of printed matter “should be, where possible, printed at LCBA,” adds Kristian. “This way, every flyer, bookmark, leaflet and membership card automatically advertises the possibilities the workshop has to offer to its members.”

Continuing to roll out and work on its new website, Studio Bergini’s identity for LCBA feels like a new chapter for the arts centre, especially after a period of closure due to the pandemic. As Kristian points out, “LCBA was our first encounter with small-scale and hands-on printing facilities outside of college, so we’re sure they’ve had an influence on the work that we do and have done so far, and we’d really encourage more designers to use the facilities to learn more about their craft.” And for now, the studio will be tying up its finishing touches to the identity and its guidelines, “which of course will be a custom made ring binder covered in book cloth.”

GalleryStudio Bergini: London Centre for Book Arts (Copyright © Studio Bergini, 2021)

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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