German Gymnasium – Creating an anchor in King’s Cross

King's Cross, once an industrial wasteland has been transformed into one of the most exciting redevelopments in Europe, consisting of 50 new buildings, 20 new streets, 10 new major public spaces, the restoration and refurbishment of 20 historic buildings and structures and up to 2,000 homes. D&D London, one of the UK’s most ambitious hospitality groups were awarded the prestige of launching the key anchor restaurant in stage one of the development. Located at Kings Boulevard opposite the Eurostar St. Pancras terminal, the site needed an iconic brand identity.

The historic site D&D were to operate was formerly The German Gymnasium. Designed by Edward Gruning and built in 1864-65 for the German Gymnastics Society. It was the first purpose-built gymnasium in England and was influential in the development of athletics in Britain. We dived into the original purpose of the building to create a distinctive, iconic visual identity, celebrating its history and creating a rich narrative for the brand.

The restaurant, designed by Conran + Partners, is a stunning all day Grand Café, first floor restaurant and bar in King's Cross serving Mittel-European cuisine. We looked to iconic German typography for inspiration, setting our logotype in Din – Germany's ubiquitous typeface and gymnasium apparatus guided us to our geometric logo marque – a parallel bar set in a medal. The colour pallet sees applications colour-blocked – reinterpreting old-fashioned gymnastic team strips.

To bring the narrative around the building and its name to life, we sourced old imagery of Victorian body-builders and applied these images to various applications across the brand to add a playful element to the story-telling.

The German Gymnasium is an iconic destination in King's Cross and continues to be one of D&D's most successful restaurant brands.