The Bond is a new creative content hub for the Midlands — an outstanding contemporary urban space, skilfully reimagined by Oval Real Estate from a landmark industrial building in Digbeth — with a new focus on TV, film, media, and tech.
The metamorphic identity, born from both the iconic architecture and its new purpose as a content hub, tells the story of one of Digbeth’s landmark industrial developments.
A unique history forged in ice, gas and canals
The Bond has had many incarnations since it was first built. It was originally a gasworks, owned by the Birmingham Gas Light and Coke Company from 1837 to 1875. Then it became an ice factory for the Patent Transparent Ice Company, until 1888.
Canal logistics company Fellows, Morton & Clayton were the next incumbents — they constructed additional warehousing and the canal basin. Later still, it was a warehouse for the bacon butty’s best friend, HP Sauce.
The canal-side location and access to London via the Grand Union Canal has always been a key attribute of the building, and the reason for it’s most iconic feature — a huge three-story hoist used to lower cargo onto the canal barges.
A confluence of creativity
The Bond now steps into the next chapter of its life, as a creative content hub. Everything comes together here. Past and present. Vision and detail. Thinkers and doers. Imagination and strategy. Opportunity and inspiration. All you need is on hand, primed and ready for action, working lives connected in a continuous chain of creativity. A place where minds meet, ideas detonate, and compelling collaborations forge.
A symbol to tell many tales
The Bond has quite a story to tell, past, present and future. The brand symbol provides the infrastructure to help tell the story of The Bond whilst also being a practical identity element for wayfinding, typography, and signage.
The icon can also be reconfigured and tiled to create textural patterns to add privacy or decoration to the buildings and promotional materials.
The core typeface used throughout the identity is Digbeth Sans, a bespoke multi-layered typeface inspired by the area’s rough-and-ready industrial heritage. It is complemented by a display typeface built from the structure of the symbol.
The new identity needed to be translated into physical and digital form, including a new signage scheme and a wayfinding system to aid visitors and tenants navigating the complex.
The buildings have been sympathetically restored, allowing historic elements and features to shine. The signage scheme used techniques typical of the industrial era — forged metal signage and gates combined with hand-painted signwriting.
Signage appropriate for a media hub
The traditional techniques are juxtaposed with a modern digital LED screen allowing animated and filmed content to be shown, content can be tailored to events in The Canopy and updated at the touch of a button.
Ice House signage and wayfinding
The main building of the five structures is the Ice House. Materials used for signage and wayfinding within this building mimic ice. Frosted recycled acrylic panels and vinyls hint at the buildings heritage and allow the raw industrial fabric of the building to show through.
A host of promotional materials were needed to promote the new spaces and potential of the building, including brochures, posters, invitations and digital assets such as website and emailers.
The relaunch of The Bond marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Digbeth. Oval’s vision for the future of the neighbourhood includes a new sky park on the Duddeston Viaduct and an extension to Custard Factory, combined with the Midlands Metro extension into Digbeth improving the connections of the area. The BBC are coming to the Typhoo Factory site and Steven Knights LOC Studios is opening soon on Fazeley Street — there really is no better time to be in Digbeth.
Photography: Tom Bird and Jack Spicer Adams
Copywriting: Total Content
Sign-writing: Seven 9 Signs
Print production: WithPrint
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