• PrintMag

Designing London’s Design District

Updated: Jun 16

London is wildly expensive.

So how do you give the creative class—which has been an integral part of the city’s fabric since its founding—the space to create without being priced out?

You build it.

Located in Greenwich Peninsula, Design District is set to provide 150,000 square feet of affordable workspace for 1,800 people in the city’s creative field when it opens in the fall. As the District details, “Everything … is designed to help creative businesses thrive. That includes permanent buildings to provide security and certainty, plus flexible leases to enable businesses to grow or shrink in one place.”

In addition to providing both “clean” and “dirty” workshops, the District will offer a shared materials library, photography and recording studios, and will provide services to its tenants including IP support, tax law and more, “behaving more like a world-class R&D department than a landlord.”

The 16 buildings that make up the District are being overseen by HNNA founder Hannah Corlett, and intentionally designed “blind” by eight different architectural firms—6a Architects, Adam Khan Architects, Architecture 00, Barozzi Veiga, David Kohn Architects, HNNA, Mole Architects, and SelgasCano. Each building has an individual style, akin to the development of pre-industrial neighborhoods.

“We wanted to ensure that the District reflected the diverse architectural styles and embraced the ‘wit and mess’ that one often finds in neighborhoods that have grown organically over time,” says Matt Dearlove, head of design at Design District and Greenwich Peninsula. “The challenge was to do that from scratch in one go, and so we wanted architects who would look at the project through a very individual lens. Even though they would work from the same brief, we felt they would bring a great sense of individuality to their buildings.”

Via Design District

Via Design District

Via Design District

Via Design District

… Which likely didn’t make developing and refining the District’s identity any easier.

When working on the branding, the agency Magpie faced a conundrum: How do you develop a graphic identity that lives up to the standards of its name, but doesn’t overshadow the practitioners within it? (As Magpie writes, “Design District is here to champion creatives, not to be one.”)

Design District’s original logo was created by Socio Design. Magpie adapted it to be used as directional arrows, “communicating a sense of dynamism via the evocative fast-forward motif—the effect the Design District aims to have on the creative businesses that make the new development their homes.”

Magpie also employed Colophon Foundry’s Mabry typeface, and crafted an adaptable graphic platform system that elevates tenants’ content without overpowering it, carefully applying color and form.

Via Magpie

Via Magpie

Via Magpie

Via Magpie

Via Magpie

All told, the District is a hub for designers, by designers. In other words: London is calling.

For more about the Design District, click here.

#architecture #branding #DesignDistrict #London



PRINT (founded 1940) is where creative people gather to inspire and build design dialogue. Perpetually curious about everything design, we report on, curate and celebrate visual culture, the makers of that culture and the expression of graphic design in all its forms and mediums.  


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