World’s last gaslit cinema adopts sleek rebrand after restoration

The Hyde Park Picture House has stood in Leeds for over a century. Closing in 2020 for redevelopment, its new brand identity is inspired by film projection.

15 August 2023

The Leeds-based design studio Rabbithole has just finished up a design facelift for an independent stronghold in its city, the Hyde Park Picture House. The cinema is not only one of the UK’s oldest, it is also one of the last in the world to hold onto its original Edwardian features with plasterwork, gas lights and analogue projectors all receiving attention in a £4.8m recent redevelopment project. The task for Rabbithole was to fold these Edwardian features into a modern brand identity for the cinema.

The logo zeroes in on a distinctive part of the Picturehouse brand – its Cinemeccanica 35mm projectors, which date to the early 20th Century. During this time, cue marks were used to signal to projectionists that it was time to change reels. Rabbithole has turned these “cigarette burn” shapes into a brand symbol and framing device.

It’s a perfect solution for a cinema like Picturehouse, where a sleek form hides decades of history. The cue marks are also highly flexible. As Hyde Park Picture House hosts an array of curatorial events throughout the year, the projection mark can change colour and adapt in typographically depending on the film genre it represents.

“For example, the gothic Bradley font in magenta fittingly represents the Creatures of the Night cult horror strand,” Rabbithole explains, “and Karl Marx font in tangerine captures the innocence of the Hyde and Seek family strand.”

The balance of the cinema’s history with its modern-day presence was also hugely important. “While the historical charm of the Hyde Park Picture House undeniably attracts visitors, it was a visual narrative we avoided when approaching the identity,” says Tim Dee, creative director at Rabbithole. “HPPH is far from a static relic that people might only explore out of nostalgic curiosity – it is a living and culturally relevant space with a true passion for film and a love for the communities it is part of. Our approach was to focus on this vibrancy and make the foundations of the brand much more flexible, enabling it to continue to move with its audiences and portray confidence in its programmatic offering.”

Hyde Park Picture House reopened to over 11,000 admissions in its opening month – more than double the audiences the cinema reached pre-pandemic before closure. Ollie Jenkins, marketing and communications manager at the Picturehouse, says the work from Rabbithole helped “give the cinema a unified and coherent voice during a period of change and turbulence, and helped us more effectively communicate with our audiences”.

GalleryRabbithole: Hyde Park Picture House (Copyright © Rabbithole, 2023)

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Rabbithole: Hyde Park Picture House (Copyright © Rabbithole, 2023)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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