How do we navigate buildings, parks and public spaces? How do we determine our paths in a new place? On the face of it, it seems like a simple task. All the way up until the moment when you can no longer find the information you need. Until the moment when you’re lost.
To successfully find our way, we use skills such as orientation and navigation within and through spaces, as well as the accumulation and assimilation of information. To help us find the way – or assisting the process of wayfinding – we thus need answers to three basic questions: where, how and what.
When navigating landscapes, cities or buildings, we rely on our innate understanding of our environment – unconscious clues such as the position of the sun, our memory or familiar landmarks. Some even say the earth’s magnetic field is an influencing factor.
The amount of signage necessary to assist us is proportional to the complexity of an environment and the access to these natural clues. In a dense urban situation, we therefore need more signage to find out way as opposed to an open landscape.
Everything communicates. As such, every piece of a building or a space must be considered in detail. When developing wayfinding, signage and environmental graphics, we particularly focus on three things:
The wayfinding systems and signage is an extension of the building or space’s identity at large. Designing wayfinding that builds on the concept, while simultaneously communicates the identity, creates a holistic expression of the building or space as a whole.
Through close collaboration with the architects, interior architects, landscape architects and clients, we aim to understand the complexity of the space and the needs of its users. A process based on co-creation, with all relevant disciplines involved, allows us to create a functional system that is also eye-catching and attractive within the environment.
The wayfinding system and signage needs to be functional, informational and accessible for all. Prototyping is one of our most important tools in this process. It allows us to test and secure legibility, contrasts and size – all key factors to a system that meets the criteria of universal design.