V&A Dundee

Ten iconic graphics from club culture history

Rick Banks is a graphic designer and typographer, and author of Clubbed: A Visual History of UK Club Culture. Here he shares his pick of ten key designs which helped shaped the story of club graphics.

Written by: Rick Banks

1. Haçienda

'FAC 51 The Haçienda' lettering on diagonal yellow and grey striped background
Design - Peter Saville

In terms of club design and club branding The Haçienda is where it all started. They were at the forefront. The Haçienda, in a somewhat subversive, ‘questioning the system’ and ironic way, acted like a quasi-powerful company with modern logos, bespoke fonts and playful copy. The Haçienda was both trendsetting and avant-garde with a desire for what Peter Saville has described as ‘educating the audience’.

2. Ministry of Sound

Two photographs showing the Ministry of Sound logo printed on deck slipmats and set in landscapes
Design - Scott Parker, Art Direction - Tom Lardner

Scott Parker came up with the idea of using the Technics 1210 with the logo printed on the slipmat on a late night out in the Ministry of Sound VIP room which overlooked the DJ booth. Parker was struggling to find a new way to use the logo and there it was staring back at him. The club listings were so editorial and beautiful. By the use of photography and lovely art direction it really made MoS stand out.

As the years went by, Parker and his team really started to push the concepts with the Technics decks. This included freezing several in blocks of ice, chrome plating one, setting fire to another, covering one with graffiti and having a bespoke model made to look like a Sports Walkman.

3. Renaissance

Renaissance poster images featuring collaged religious iconography on a blue and a red background.
Design - Chris Howe

Renaissance were at the birth of the superclub era and founder Geoff Oakes wanted a holistic approach to his superb brand. He wanted to ‘marry art, décor and music in a coherent message’. The inside of the club was as important to him as the music and artwork so the décor and the visuals were all aligned with the Renaissance theme. Signature gold cherubs hanging from the roof and velvet drapes became indicative of the opulent style of Renaissance events which were all underpinned by the fantastic artwork of Chris Howe.

4. Cream logo

Three-curved black Cream logo on a grey background.
Design - Farrow

I actually wanted to shave the Cream logo into my head as a teenager! Embarrassing, looking back...

One of my favourite logos ever. The Hacienda promoter Paul Cons once said: ‘Think of a club which is successful and you will be thinking of a club that has effectively branded its image on a flyer.’

I actually wanted to shave the Cream logo into my head as a teenager! Embarrassing looking back, but that’s how strong the logo is. It’s timeless. The brief from Cream was to make it look ‘classic like the Nike logo’. I think they succeeded.

5. Pushca

A yellow rubber glove with a pink feather ring and the Pushca logo
Design - Simon Chalmers & Russell Hall

Back in the 90s many clubs had big marketing budgets. Pushca was one of those clubs. They were renowned for their high production values at the time. For their Housewives’ Choice night, their flyer wasn’t just another piece of paper. They screen printed the party information on a yellow Marigold rubber glove, which had a fake ostrich feather attached to it — they disappeared in hours. Instantly memorable. Instantly collectable.

6. Haçienda 1997 poster

Orange and grey Hacienda poster on a black background
Design Farrow

The poster only came to life at night under the glare of car headlights... the message was only important to people who were out after dark.

Another Haç graphic. This birthday poster designed by Farrow celebrated the Haçienda’s fifteenth birthday and ticks every box for me. It’s a prime example of beautiful minimalism and it still looks good today. So good, in fact, that we have it on the wall in the studio. The code 51 15 25 05 97 (FAC 51 is 15 on 25 05 97) was printed in a reflective ink onto a grey background which rendered it almost invisible in daylight. The poster only came to life at night under the glare of car headlights. The reasoning being that the message was only important to people who were out after dark.

7. Slinky logo

White minimal drawing of a Slinky spring on a black background
Design - Jon Jeffrey

I loved this logo as a kid. The best logo designs are always simple. It was designed by Jon Jeffrey (now at Bibliothèque Studio) in 1997. The design was so elegant that toy makers Slinky threatened to sue the club for copyright infringement which resulted in a (much inferior) re-brand.

8. Gatecrasher

Badges and flyer designs for Gatecrasher featuring arrows, typography and rampant lions.
Design - The Designers Republic

I bought a lot of ‘Crasher CDs back in the day. Mainly for the design and the information in the booklets. But also for the banging trance! Designed by The Designers Republic they really did embrace their motto of ‘more is more’. I liked everything about tDR’s comprehensive approach for Gatecrasher — the lion, the bespoke font, the tiny 5pt details, the lairy colours, intricate illustration and their super distinctive tone of voice. Itwillalwaysbewithyou.

9. Fabric

Painted images and photographs of eerie masked faces
Design - Juan Cortes, Art Direction - Jonathon Cooke

I loved how fabric abandoned the initial graphic approach (which was super common at the time) in favour of a more surreal aesthetic. By using photography, set design and model making their posters have such a unique style to them you instantly know they are from fabric. They have created their own visual world. Sometimes they don’t even use the fabric logo which makes it even more impressive.

10. Printworks

Black and white posters of faces and graphics on a concrete wall.
Design - Only Studio

The Printworks, in echoes of The Haçienda’s re-imagining of an old industrial space, used the venue’s prior incarnation as Europe’s largest printworks as the starting point for its visual identity. They took Commercial Type’s Druk typeface and wrapped it around a cylinder to replicate the effect of the printing press’s giant rollers. It’s a simple idea, but it works. Good design is about getting often complex ideas across in the simplest or most elegant way possible.

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To explore more design from The Haçienda, including an original section of dancefloor, visit the Night Fever: Designing Club Culture exhibition. Rick Banks' book Clubbed: A Visual History of UK Club Culture, features logos, posters, photography, stickers, tickets, menus, cover art, signage, lanyards, fonts and flyers from the last 35 years; it is available from our online shop.