Davis Theater

Branding & Interior Design

Redesign and renovation of a 100-year-old Chicago neighborhood theater, along with an all-new full-service bar & restaurant.

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The Davis is one of Chicago’s oldest theaters and the longest continually operating movie venue in the city.

Built in 1916, this historic Chicago theater first opened its doors as the Pershing Theater — a vaudeville-style theater for live performances and silent films. By the start of the 1930s, the theater was under new ownership and renamed the Davis Theater.

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After several alterations and many decades of neglect, a theater that had once screened early Charlie Chaplin films was now in danger of being torn down. In 1999 Tom Fencl stepped in to acquire the property and save it from demolition.

The theater had obvious historical significance and sentimental value to the neighborhood of Lincoln Square, and Chicago as a whole. But to any outsider, one thing was also clear…

it had a face (interior) only a mother could love.

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Starting in the summer of 2015, Analogous joined the team to lead the redesign and renovation of this 100-year-old Chicago neighborhood treasure.

The $5 million effort included the renovation of the existing theater and the build-out of an all-new full-service bar & restaurant.

Our team led all aspects of creative direction on the redesign of the Davis, along with Carbon Arc; the newly added sister bar & restaurant space. 

The revitalized Davis Theater:

An art deco revival that delivers a modern movie-going experience while staying true to the history and iconic character of the Davis Theater and the period in which it was originally was built.

 

This project received a 2018 Landmarks Illinois - Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award :
Award for Rehabilitation

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Design of Carbon Arc, the new adjoining bar & restaurant space:

Building on the Art Deco inspired direction (appropriate for the period), we layered in modern and industrial elements to create a consistent design language across the venue.

The mix of elements provided us with enough range to pay homage to the style, and at the same time avoid being trapped in a stereotype of the period.

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Branding for the Davis Theater and Carbon Arc Bar & Restaurant:

Our team designed the identity and supporting collateral in concert with our overall design direction for the interior. This not only allowed us to ensure consistency and harmony across the design efforts, it specifically meant we were able to incorporate some of the same graphic details into the identity, collateral, and into construction details of the bar itself.

 A set of three different identities were developed for the collective project. For the Davis we recreated a logotype based on the historic signage along with a modernized version, that would work alongside our logo for Carbon Arc.

We named the new bar & restaurant "Carbon Arc" after the lighting technology that was used to illuminate some of the theater lights & film projectors of the era.

 

 

*Light is created from the arc of electricity across two rods of carbon. This is referenced by the two points positioned above and below the Carbon Arc logo.

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Our work included: naming, branding, collateral, signage, and capital campaign materials for the project, as well as the design, direction, and selection for all materials, finishes, fixtures, and build-out specifications for the interior of both properties.


Project Credits:

Grant Stewart : Design Lead
Faith Hurley : Project Lead

Stacy Morton : Designer (Interior)
Michelle Kliman Designer (Interior)
Rachel Stewart : Design Support (Interior)
Mark Nizinski : Designer (Brand)

Thank you to our fellow partners on this project:
Kennedy Mann Architecture, Macon Construction, and of course, the Davis Theater owners & staff.

The Davis celebrated its grand re-opening December 2016.

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