“London’s Design Museum is developing an exhibition on the legacy of information systems in our everyday lives. The show is called ‘Open this Way’ and charts the development of how information has been used to guide, inform, manipulate and organise our everyday social and private worlds. They want you to design an exhibition map, a signage system, and a proposal for a mini-website.
The exhibition is broken down into a number of different sections:
- Do it like this: a survey of operators’ manuals, user instructions, diagrams, and other forms of information that tell people how to do something.
- You are here: the legacy of maps, plans, road signs and other forms of information that deal with physical spaces.
- No ball games: safety information, restrictive signs, and other forms of signage and information that tells you what to do.
- This might contain: a survey of packaging, shop sign and other forms of commercial information.
- Press now: the development of interactive, moving image and other forms of digital information.
Develop a map and signage system that informs visitors what to expect from the whole exhibition, where things are and how to navigate around the space. Your map should fit onto one side of an A4 leaflet. Your signage system will be spread around the different rooms of the exhibition, so think about where your signs might go, how much information needs to go on them, and an overall design that can accommodate different amounts of information.
You might want to locate this exhibition in a real gallery, museum or other space. Alternatively, devise your own series of rooms.
In addition, develop some ideas about how this exhibition can be organised into a mini-website that will be linked to their existing site http://designmuseum.org/. They will commission a web programmer to make the site so they simply want an idea of how it could be structured and how it might look.”
First I had a look at how this subject relates to crowd behaviour…
Real time crowd simulation from Interior Archictects
This is quite a technical subject that Im not able to fully grasp of course! But its clear that the larger the building, the more thought needs to go into how people are likely to move around a space. I have also come across the concept in exterior spaces where pathways are added at a later date after people have walked about. This ensures pathways are constructed along a route that people actually use!
Crowd Dynamics – there are companies that specialise in consultancy
Learning from retail wayfinding
Revisiting some signage inspiration I gathered for an earlier task. Not the use of several planes to allow people to read from different approaches
Unusual shapes to catch the eye
Shape, movement and colour…
I have a good collection of signage/wayfinding inspiration on Pinterest. For some reason, its not currently embedding into this page – please do follow the link instead
Here’s some screen shots from my board
The images I collected made me think about materials, shapes, placement and colour
In this example, the angular lines and bright colour break up the space in and extraordinary way
Again this use of angular lines and bright colour follow the contour of the steps but also work across them in a much more dynamic direction than straight up!
Fantastic colour and shapes
Dramatic floor signage…number cut out from their backgrounds…
Stylish solution – moveable signage
I love this one!
One consideration is the size and proportions of the building – how high are the ceilings? Are there stairs? Corridors?
More questions…How much should my signage take centre stage? What else will be displayed in the rooms?
Where are people most likely to look? Can I use the ceiling or floor? What do they need to know?
I have a confession to make…I have been playing with a fantastic 3D rendering App, that allows you to design rooms to your requirements. I got a little ahead of myself and created an exhibition space. It can be shown as a 2D plan, an aerial view and 3D walk through (viewable if you also have the app!)
Here it is if you want to play (cost approx £5 -10 depending on features)
The plus side is that its allowed me to visualise my fictional exhibition space very clearly and I think thats vital – the downside is, as Ive reviewed my inspiration on Pinterest, it now occurs to me that my interior has no corridors, or ‘in-between’ spaces, which seem common in actual examples. (Though I would mention smaller exhibition space in Devon such as at Princetown or Bovey Tracey are all ground floor with no corridors or vast space) Perhaps my building is funded by the Design Museum as a small satellite?? Who knows.
I will work with what I have already done, bearing in mind that in real life my example is rather small, and signage might well be fighting with exhibition items… Oh and as much as I have provided a token pair of toilets, there’s no kitchen, or emergency exits plus other stuff you undoubtedly need in a public building! I also should have made a sizeable lobby. Tsk. Well I’m not an architect!!
So here’s my building in progress (add, click and drag to your requirements)
Experimenting with exterior. Is this right hand tree in the way? Probably!
Here’s my proposed room spaces
Entrance room (Ive removed the table)
Room 1: You Are Here…
Walking straight ahead leads to…
Room 2: Press Now
Room 3: This Might Contain
Walking through the cafe leads to…
Room 4: No Ball Games
Room 5: Do It Like This
Passing through Room 5 takes you back to the start (Room 1)
As you can see, I have lightly furnished them – partly so I could orientate myself when I did a virtual walk through, and also to try and understand the available space.
I am also pondering the permanence of signage? Obviously the cafe, toilets entrance/exit remain the same. But what about signage specifically for this exhibition? It will be replaced when this exhibition ends. Does that effect how I go about this?
I really wanted to design my signage in response to a place, to see what might work in this environment. For example, I may be able to make use of the arches or the ceiling. Its hard to know what will remain visible, when I don’t know what the exhibition stands will look like…I suspect these are usually designed alongside our brief? They seem to go hand in hand.
Anyway here’s me brain storming ideas…
Thinking about materials used for signage and whether there could be a linking theme
Does signage have to be consistant or could each room have a uniquely shaped sign based on the subject? I imaged them partially 3D (appraise half the object projecting from the wall)
Can I work with the existing archways? The trouble with colour coding archways is you will see the colour from both sides. Looking at signage shapes…
If I number the rooms as permanent signage, how would that be displayed? How do I cope with different view points?
Thinking about 3D numbers suspended from the ceiling
Number suspended from ceiling and surrounded by wire (plus thinking about what signs are needed generally)
I came to the conclusion that I would like my signs to be:
Colourful (eye catching) or high contrast (e.g. white on dark grey)
Have consistant signage (to help the viewer)
Have permanent signage (toilets & cafe, room numbers and an exterior sign for the museum itself)
Have temporary signage (specifically for this exhibition)
Numbering the rooms allow me to encourage people to move one way in an (anti-clockwise) circular loop around the building, passing through the cafe and toilets in the middle. The numbers can be used in any future exhibition to identify each room.
I do like a slate look sign so I made a brief amble towards retro signage but meh…
Because the whole exhibition is about signage what sort of tone do I go for?
I wanted to use a timeless sans serif, so I chose Futura. The angular crispness looks great, but also it has lovely curves because it is so geometric. I felt maybe Helvetica was a bit too predictable?!
I was still considering materials at this point, I loved the idea of making lettering from coloured glass but had no idea if this was feasible.
I would like to thank my friend Emma who kindly talked me through the use of glass as a material. She is experienced in lamp work and familiar with how to work glass effectively in 3D.
So. I could in theory commission glass signs. Either a clear glass base with enamel (with some sort of temporary cloisonné to restrict the spread) or ask for fusing, which would again involve a sheet of clear glass, with glass shapes laid on top and fused in a kiln. Then the clear glass could be turned uppermost.
She explained the drawbacks are that glass is relatively expensive (particularly pinks and red hues) which could limit my colour palette, and I would have to choose a less crisp typeface, as these methods would produce ‘soft’ lines.
All this considered, I feel perspex is the maybe best material for the signage I have in mind? For my exhibition signs I am imagining signage made from perspex, overlaid with solid white board (so the perspex is inset) But whats possible? This must be an important consideration in design?
If this was real life, I think the most sensible thing would be to consult the professionals and learn more about the available materials. For example, I found the website for this firm in Barnstaple…
You can see that each box holds a mouseover that lets you explore some basic information about materials.
Heres the subject page for acrylic
With the proper advice, I could price up materials and assess suitability to feed back to the client.
Just playing with ideas…
What about a grey flecked with ‘gold’ made from either perspex or some sort of acrylic stone composite….
I like this! Which led me to look at some variations… I was of course thinking about how standard road signs look, and showing the movement of pathways. All with a bit of bling!
In the end I decided that the black and gold would work best as the permanent sign, and to make my exhibition signage contrast by using colour.
On reflection this seems a bit too busy so in my final sign I toned this down.
I drew some little icons for the cafe and toilets in Illustrator… I wanted to be playful, ironic and hopefully entirely original with these – a lipstick and a screwdriver which you’ll see in a moment. I know in real life some signs probably can’t move away from what we expect to see.
Do they work? I don’t know its worth a try?!
I then worked up my 2D map in Illustrator to show the room layout and contents using the colours I had selected on the main sign and the signage icons for toilets etc
For the website, as I’d decided to name my museum “Design Museum SW” for South West, I’ve located it in Ilfracombe(!) This doesn’t seem that strange, as Ilfracombe has Damian Hurst’s huge Verity statue on the harbour, and the art gallery Fleek which has really contemporary artwork.
Consequently I found a good picture of Ilfracombe on Pixabay (Creative Commons) and worked up some designs…
I’ve got into the habit of using multiple artboards which really helps to keep track of documents and easily compare/develop ideas
My finished work
Permanent exterior signage
Exterior exhibition signage
Exterior mock up
Permanent Interior Signage
Interior Room Mock up
Interior Exhibition Signs
Room 1: You are here
Room 2: Press Now
Room 3: This might contain
Room 4: No ball games
Room 5: Do it like this
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