Tuesday, 29 April 2008


In my time at Ravensbourne I was involved with delivering (albeit on a small scale) talking to students about Wayfinding. The term still raises a frown as many people don't know what the term means. While discussing this with colleagues, Finola Gaynor and Nima Falatoori, along with attending lectures by Cartlidge Levene about their work on the Barbican Centre system I have begun to take a much bigger interest in it.

It is not as many people think only about signage, but all kinds of environmental systems that can influence navigation around a public space. Students often find it difficult to think of other ways by which we traverse spaces, but once it becomes clear seem to enjoy the challenge. Browsing eye magazine on line recently I came across an article by John D. Barry who talked a little about this. In my experience at teaching at an institution like Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, I realized the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration. When students work on group projects with those from other courses they come up with solutions, which far outstrip the individual endeavours. It is about time as Barry suggests that Graphic Designers begin working with Architects and other types of designers to resolve problems such as wayfinding.
As he says ". . . As a practical matter, architects and graphic designers should be teaming up to create new environments; after all, we have to live with the results on on a day-to-day basis, so we might as well use our best intelligence and skills in designing them. We need both a historical understanding of lettering in architecture and a forward-looking technical understanding of how we interact with words in the modern world. The increasing use of electronic lettering on and in buildings, as embedded yet constantly changing visual information, adds a new dimension to the question; so do new forms of portable information, both visual and aural. Yet the fundamental problems remain the same, along with the fundamental nature of the human beings who use whatever architects build. Only the solutions change."

For those of you interested have a good look at the Cartlidge Levene website and their projects for Selfridges and The Barbican Arts Centre and also the project Pentagram did for the Bloomberg Centre



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