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10 Speed Coffee is a coffee shop that started in Hood River, Oregon that was a social hub for the cycling and coffee community. They have a location inside of Pedaler’s Fork, a restaurant in Calabasas, California that we actually did a sign for a few years back. They’re opening a new coffee shop in Santa Monica, and their architect coincidentally found us online and contacted us for the storefront signage they needed.

From the beginning, the client knew that they wanted a vintage look for the sign with a thick border and that the faces of the signs needed to be illuminated. Since the sign was to have individual letters, we decided to make front-lit channel letters. He found a photo of a sign face he liked and we tried our best to re-create it. The first design we showed him was more of a marble look. After the customer saw the rendering, we spoke about it and learned that he was looking for more of a gradient look. After a few revisions and the customer visiting the shop to see the pattern in person, we decided on a design for the sign face.

To create the border they¬†wanted, we did something a little different from typical front-lit channel letters. Usually, we put trimcap around the flat sign face and attach it to the return. This incidentally creates a border around the letters but it’s only about 1/8″ at most. 10 Speed Coffee wanted a thick, black border around each letter. In order to obtain this, we decided to put a retainer on the letters. A retainer is usually used for a cabinet sign when the face needs to be held in place and the sign is just one big box. Making retainers for each face made it possible for us to give each letter a 1/2″ thick border. The returns and the retainer were all painted black.

The sign was to be installed on top of the existing metal awning. Since the “p” and “f”s in the logo dip under the baseline of the logo, we positioned the raceway so it was right on the edge of the awning to make sure that the baseline of the letters would align with the top of the awning. We got the paint color of the awning from the landlord and painted the raceway to match so it blends in.

The coffee shop is located on the corner of 20th and Santa Monica Blvd. so we made two identical signs to face either street.