If you’ve stepped foot in London in the past five years or so, you’ll have noticed that the place has a tendency to change, often and quickly. Few places have changed as quickly or as often as Kings Cross. Once a slightly seedy point of entry for a vast range of visitors from the UK and mainland Europe, it is now a sparkling, shop-heavy destination that positively buzzes at weekends. There’s even a Waitrose.
The latest addition to the Kings Cross revitalisation revolution is Coal Drops Yard, a Heatherwick Studio-designed shopping and restaurant district that opens to the public on 26 October 2018. The space is a reimagined set of historic buildings and arches directly adjacent to Granary Square and Regent’s Canal.
Droga5 — fresh off the back of working with Serena Williams on a campaign for US bank Chase — have overseen the launch campaign and visual identity for the development — and they’ve got one of the big dogs of British photography to give them a hand.
“Martin Parr is so well-known for documenting modern life in Britain, so it felt appropriate for him to visually capture people in an iconic space like Kings Cross,” Droga5’s Head of Art Chris Chapman says when we ask why they’d decided to get the superstar photographer onboard. “We wanted to imagery that felt observed and real.”
Martin’s work is just one aspect of a large-scale, hyper-public project — “It is great to do something in London – and especially in a space as iconic as King’s Cross,” is Chris’ take — and Droga5 were keen to work with the existing creative talent dotted around the area.
Back in 2011, as most of you will remember, Central Saint Martins upped sticks and jumped from Soho to Kings Cross, kickstarting the area’s regeneration plans in earnest. So it’s no surprise that Chris and his team have worked alongside CSM graduates on the identity development. “We wanted the project to be representative of the local area. CSM is very much central to the King’s Cross community and we felt it was critical to showcase some of the amazing talent on offer there,” Chris tells us.
The campaign tagline is “All Consumed” and Chris explains that, “Buying things – traditional consumption – has never been easier (or more mindless). The thinking behind Coal Drops Yard throughout its development has been to challenge – and broaden – this definition of consumption.” He goes on to add that, “our aim was to contribute towards Coal Drops Yard being a place where people can be ‘consumed’ by all manner of experiences. So, for example, in the visual identity we have things like snails to represent the area’s natural spaces, and images of 90s dance culture and coal to help reflect the site’s still-visible history. The imagery we’ve created brings to life the unique experiences on offer, whether you are buying something or not.”
Droga5 also say that, “the visual identity design aims to reflect the journey of exploring this idiosyncratic district,” which means “information is ‘randomly’ placed in the communications, rather than dictating the audience’s experience with headlines, end lines and other standard design formats.”
You’ll be able to assess that randomness for yourself when the site — and the 50 stores, restaurants and cafés housed within its confines — opens later this month.