Searcy’s St Pancras Hotel typeface inspired by architecture, brought to life by die-stamping

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Die-stamping gives a tactile, three-dimensional look and feel

Inspired as a student by tales of engraved bank notes, designer Jack Gilbey at one of London’s leading independent design studios, Bibliothèque, is a keen advocate of die-stamping. Hoping to pair this traditional technique with a classic, contemporary brand, synergy struck at Searcy’s Bar and Restaurant in the landmark St Pancras Hotel in London, which includes Europe’s longest champagne bar.

Bibliotheque was commissioned with a rebranding project to help restore the restaurant to its former glory as one of London’s top destination restaurants. The design team were moved by the Gothic architecture, designed by Gilbert Scott, to create a typeface for the brand that was evocative of the tall, arched windows in this historic building.

Close up die
Close-up of metal die-stamping die

Jack explained: “We used the counter shape of the arch to create a unique ‘A’ shape and modified an existing typeface for the new brand. We also incorporated notches in the type to reflect the brickwork and used the pink and red colours of the bricks to create a unique and distinctive typeface. To execute the intricate new logo effectively, we wanted to give it a bevelled, 3D appearance, as if there was a light source.

“The nature of Searcy’s brand is classic and generational, but also contemporary, and we unanimously decided that die-stamping was the best way to create the right look and feel. It was important to us that the brand felt special, literally, with a tactile quality. So, we approached Baddeley Brothers to help us produce the menu sheets, letterheads and business cards.

“We had a few challenges to overcome. We’d originally designed a three-colour die-stamp, but we replaced the third colour with a linear hatch to keep our costs down. We then used metallic inks to accent the red brick colours. Working with Baddeley Brothers, we were able to run a lot of proofs, experimenting with different colours until we got the exact look we wanted. We tried different golds, silvers and copper. Finally, the red copper gave us the exact shade and finish that we were looking for.

Die-stamped sttaionery
Finished stationery involves three colours to register

“We also experimented with the colours of the paper stock. We were looking for traditional premium cream or off-white colours, but we knew that the lighting in the brasserie had a yellow tint, which would affect the way the colours would be seen in the restaurant. And under the lighting, the whiter papers looked the best. We then used a hierarchy of colour and size in the suite of menu sheets to differentiate between each menu offering. To ensure cost-effectiveness, we used the same size logo on each sheet, so we only needed to produce one die.

“Baddeley Brothers really is the go-to company for work like this. The level of care that was taken at every stage in the process impressed me, and when the quality really mattered, they really understood our ambitions for the project. They worked with us closely to get the best possible result, and we always feel that our work is in safe hands.”

It’s a collaboration that has been many years in the making. “I’ve been wanting to work with Baddeley Brothers since college, where I met Roger Pertwee, the father of Charles and Chris, who now run the business. He was talking to the students, and I was very taken with the idea of die-stamping on bank notes and captivated by the allure of the process. The old machines work so well, and they’re run by real craftsmen who have rarefied skills. It’s been a delight to see them at work on our designs for this prestigious brand.”

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