Name: Palace Display
Release Date: March 2019
Backstory: London and New York-based studio Lovers recently created a new visual identity for Alexandra Palace—known to most Londoners as Ally Pally–a stunning, vast venue in the north of the city that proudly sits atop a hill and boasts shedloads of Victorian heritage, an impressive gig list past and present, and, every Christmas, a riotous darts tournament. Built in 1875 as a “palace for the people,” the site has in its time hosted Victorian “daredevils,” model railway conventions, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and so much more. Another claim to fame: the BBC’s first public television broadcast was beamed out from there back in 1936. Encompassing event spaces, an ice rink, a skate park, a Victorian theatre, boating lakes, and a huge swathe of outdoor space; the site has a lot going for it, but it needed a new identity to take it up to 2019.
Lovers was tasked with a brief to “breathe new life and energy into a confused identity.” Over a year-long project, the team created a new visual identity and tone of voice, and as part of this, created the new custom typeface Palace Display.
“Alexandra Palace is extraordinarily eccentric in its history, and we wanted to treat it to something special that stands out,” says Alex Ostrowski, Lovers founder and creative director. “A display typeface gets seen across everything: it transcends online and offline into signage and everything else. We needed something to do justice to [the venue’s] uniqueness.”
Why’s it called Palace Display? Easy one, this: it was created for Alexandra Palace, as its new display font.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The style mixes cues from the “swinging sixties,” says Lovers, alongside hints of Victoriana, “as well as a dose of well-behaved serif when set in caps. Its naughty curves and bumps make sure it’s felt as fundamentally contemporary, though—underscoring Ally Pally’s role in our world now, rather than being something only from the past.”
Ostrowski describes Palace Display as “quite fruity and also a little bit cheeky and strange and surprising,” hinted at through touches like the slightly detached bowls in the lower case that come apart almost from their stems. The serifs also boast a curved, fan-like detail.
What should I use it for? Lovers is using the typeface as part of a far wider branding system that includes a new logo—a revived monogram that draws on the palace’s architecture—which works alongside the typeface as an “official seal.” Palace Display works fabulously with the branding’s bold new color palette, which aims to “bring a refreshed sense of play to all brand touch points, on-site signage, and merchandise,” according to Lovers. Sadly, the typeface was created solely for the Ally Pally project, and isn’t available for commercial use.
What should I pair it with? For the identity system, Lovers paired it with Granby, a sans-serif typeface designed and released by the Stephenson Blake type foundry in 1930. “Granby is one of those typefaces you’d see a lot on the old British travel posters of the early 20th century, often widely spaced in caps,” says Ostrowski. “Ally Pally used to have a train station inside it, and we thought we’d have the two typefaces as Laurel and Hardy: one’s doing the straight stuff, the other’s mucking around.” These two fonts work alongside the monogram, which the team plucked from lettering they spotted on some wrought iron railings at the site.