“And the Lord said let there be light…"
...and there was light. Thousands of sound reactive programmable LED lights to be exact.
As part of a wider task to rebrand the Hive nightclub, we were asked to design a centrepiece, an altar if you will, of this soon-to-be-resurrected Glasgow University Union icon.
Okay, okay, we’ll stop with the biblical references now.
The new space itself had been designed to be industrial with exposed surfaces, painted breezeblock walls, suspended ceiling panels, ducting and a massive hanging PA. With this aesthetic in mind, we set about creating a new brand wordmark that would reflect an industrial, perhaps even hyper-consumerist dystopia (we’re thinking Blade Runner here). We decided the letterforms had to be based on strong, simple geometry. Something that looked manufactured in a shipyard or steelworks.
We knew we wanted the brand to have a huge impact on the space, so we set about creating a monumental sign on one of the club walls. Our original concepts had the sign at over 6 metres wide and constructed from welded I-beam filled with colour-changing LED lighting.
Working in collaboration with sound and lighting specialists ARK (I know, another biblical reference) and Elkins to bring our collective vision to life, we devised an ambitious plan to use thousands of completely programmable LEDs. This would allow us to target them as individual pixels within the matrix and effectively turn the sign into a massive screen.
Weight and budgetary constraints meant we had to revise our plans ever so slightly. In the end the final sign was a sizaeable 5m wide, constructed using galvanised steel trays housing 5 long aluminium channels filled with LED strips and faced with perspex.
Shining like a massive beacon on the wall opposite the club’s main entrance, the sign overlooks the usually packed dance floor. It is sound reactive and can be programmed to create mesmerising sequences that, when coupled with the DJ's relentless beats and heaving crowds, make nights in the Hive a trance-inducing experience.
If only we could turn back time and be students again.
Image credits: GUU photography