Over the last 139 years the Los Angeles Athletic Club has seen many versions of downtown LA, but none as appealing and exciting as the current. The city center has grown and the Club’s brand was in need of updating and refinement.
Being the oldest institution in Los Angeles, heritage was a key component in updating the Club and complimenting the hotel. We dug into their archives with fresh perspective and provided them with a contemporary typographic system, graphics, and refined color palettes to help them reflect their recent renovations and guide their future in downtown Los Angeles.
Concept, Art Direction, Typography, Design,
Environment, Sign Painting
Jason McDonald, Buddy Bleckley, Steven Counts,
Nils Ericson, Salt & Tyme
Established in 1880, the Los Angeles Athletic Club remains one of the oldest operating institutions in California. It has been a home base for many generations of Angelenos like Charlie Chaplin, world famous surfer Duke Kahanamoku, and founder of Paramount Pictures Frank A. Garbutt.
The renowned members are just the beginning of the Club’s esteemed history. We uncovered the many layers while digging through their archives, which became the foundation for the rebrand.
UPDATING THE CLUB
Since its founding, the Club has gone through several iterations of logos, but never had the chance to fully develop a specific identity that reflected its true persona. As we explored, we found elements buried by the trends of generations that allowed us to develop a system grounded in history and elevated by authenticity.
Photography has been a consistent element throughout the years and has documented the generations of athletes who have risen through the club.
Photographers like Steven Counts & Nils Ericson helped add a new perspective. Their photography, contrasted with archival photos, helped the club honor its past while continuing to build its robust archive.
Frank A. Garbutt, a founding member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club and Paramount Pictures, was an avid inventor known for scribbling notes on a cocktail napkin while sipping an old fashioned at the Club.
Frank happened to leave some old patents down in the archive. Inspired by the typographic elements in them, we created an identity that celebrated the spark of inventing.
THE BLUE ROOM
During the prohibition era, the Club had access to a speakeasy where members could have a drink and relax, hidden behind the safety of a bookcase. Today, the Club still has a bookcase providing its esteemed members a place to peacefully unwind from the buzzing of downtown Los Angeles.
The identity’s inspiration was pulled directly from that bookcase to help subtly inform the members of their drink selections and goings-on in the Blue Room.
The Club hosts 100+ events a year for its members. Events range from weekly jazz nights to annual holiday concerts, dinner parties to boot camps.
We used this variety of events as a way to engage and keep things fresh for the members visiting the Club weekly or even daily. These events offered an opportunity to push the Club’s visual assets, celebrate its history, and explore new directions.
As the Club updated its facilities, it was important to preserve its history. Part of the restoration included recreating gilded typography found in the club dating back to the 1920s, celebrating their rich heritage.
The Club has continued to renovate and exceed the expectations of amenities as a modern fitness club. As downtown LA evolves, this institution now has an identity that can stand the test of time and be enjoyed by future generations to come.