Shelter House of Cards Design

Shelter, a UK charity focused on addressing homelessness and poor quality housing, followed up its 2008 “House of Cards” television advertising campaign with the production of a set of playing cards, designed by 53 artists, to highlight the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on housing. The original artwork was displayed in an exhibition in London and auctioned off with proceeds going to Shelter. Leo Burnett and Pentagram in London collaborated on the creation of an identity that would be used in signage, the brochure, the private view invitation, the online gallery, and the packaging for the limited edition packs of cards. Shelter’s House of Cards Identity won a Gold Design Lion at Cannes International Advertising Festival 2010.

House of Cards Mark

The mark was borne from the simple idea of creating a 5th playing card symbol – a House. These symbols were combined to form an H representing the ‘House’. The symbols were used right side up and upside down to support the cascading image of houses collapsing. A logotype was developed to work independently and with the mark. Having certain characters twisted / set upside down reflected the cascading idea as well as playing into the ambigram nature of cards and Avenir was used for it’s simplicity, directness and modernity. The black and red palette was a reference to both playing cards and the Shelter brand.

House of Cards Back

House of Cards Invite

House of Cards Artists

House of Cards Poster

Thousands visited it in person and hundreds of thousands visited it online. Harrods liked the cards so much they requested exclusivity and in total the auction and the sale of the cards raised over £150,000. Overall the campaign led to a 1600% increase in the number of online discussions on homelessness issue and helped secure several new government initiatives to prevent repossession.

Domenic Lippa and designer Jeremy Kunze developed a logotype that played on the idea of the rearranged letters and a symbol of a “H” that combined pictograms of the suits from the cards and a pictogram of a house. All invitations, catalogue and cards were designed with radius corners to reflect the playing cards. Patterns were printed in various colours and varnishes to give all the items a sense of desirability and quality.


The Cards Design campaign was developed at Leo Burnett London by executive creative director Jonathan Burley, copywriter Daniel Fisher, art director Richard Brim, and at Pentagram, London, by design directors Domenic Lippa and Jeremy Kunze.

Filed under: Design, Shelter

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