Acting on a Design Brief: Signage for the Arts Center

On one the main issues currently facing the Arts Center in terms of wayfinding, is the complex design and layout of the building and the lack of an efficient signage system to overcome this. As such the Arts Center is a particular area of campus of increased confusion. The layout decreases navigational and orientation awareness in relation to how a person especially a visitor perceives the space. This is of concern especially for the Arts Center’s off-campus visitors who fall into this trap of a false geospatial awareness in relation to this complex space. Often visitors, and even some students and faculty unfamiliar with the Arts Center, have reported serve disorientation, miss guidance and the experience of getting endlessly lost in its extensive corridors.

In order to combat this issue, the Arts Center has approached the class to provide a solution alongside a design brief highlighting the areas of concern and need for specific signage. The design brief gives the opportunity to create signage that represents the Arts Center in a creative way, and help further propel the identify and recognition of the Arts Center through implementation of these new signs. Yet the need for a professional interface which is accessible to all audience members, easy to follow and incorporates the Arts Center logo also needs to be considered in the designs. Just using horizontal arrows instead of using vertical arrows for the signs seems to be the best approach in yielding a solution as often horizontal arrows harbor confusion of in which direction is the sign actually pointing too. These signs can give the illusion of pointing straight ahead, behind, up above or down below and as such are a bad choice for an already complex space. With horizontal arrows as signs, it is more clear that the sign points in the right or left direction and as such would be easier to follow. Due to the extensive design brief, 36 designs (presented systematically below) have been yielded to fully combat the issues and needs highlighted in the design brief.

Analysing the Arts Center logo, a component which needs to be incorporated in the signage, it asthetically and creatively integrates the iconic dual shades of red symbolic of the Red Theater, the main center auditorium, of the Arts Center. As such it is of great significance to integrate this aspect of the Arts Center’s image and identity further in the signage. Yet a simple red arrow is not enough. Going with the geometric shape design and patterns of campus and the Arts Center, such geometric aspect can be incorporated to the red arrow to yield a creative, striking and unique design that complements the Arts Center’s logo very effectively, whilst representing this dual shade of Arts Center’s red. Arts Center logo and Designs found below:

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 23.08.58
The Arts Center Logo


Developing on these ideas, the incorporation of geometric lines in the form of two shades of grey, a prominent colour associated both with Arts Center and the whole of campus, further contributes to the notion of a professional interface which can effectively portray the Arts Center in a creative way. In this sense by simply looking at the signs for the Arts Center, the visitor can perceive the Arts Center as an creative institution of progression in the region even before one has stepped inside or witness the collection of impressive exhibitions and productions the Arts Center has to offer. Designs found below:

One issue highlighted both in the design brief, personal experience and comments of fellow peers, is that there is no signage to direct the visitors to and highlight the location of the main theater toilets intended to be used for the Red Theater and Blue Hall on level B1 as well as no signs on B1 to direct the visitors back to the main floors of the Arts Center. Also, the balcony of the Red Theater on level 1 which houses more seating is poorly indicated on the main level and as such visitors are not informed of its location and existence. Thus, the Arts Center has requested for signs to direct visitors to the balcony, whilst taking into account additional signs on level 1 to direct the visitors back to the main level and further to the toilets assigned for the Red Theater on level B1. There is also need to direct guests to the auditoriums (the Red Theater, Blue Hall and Black Box) and certain performances that would be performed outside the Arts Centre such as the East Plaza, whilst providing instructional signage in these auditoriums/spaces of performances on certain rules and expectations of visitors. Using the arrow sign designs above as a template, I further incorporated minimal text and pictograms to transfer and communicate this information effectively in the geometric style of the original arrow. As such the text is alined parallel to that of the grey lines, with words of significance being highlighted in bold and enlarged. Some words are further coloured due to them having a particular association with a colour which can aid wayfinding, for example green for ‘Exit’ and blue for the ‘Blue Hall’. I decided for all text to be presented in uppercase as a means to generate greater visibility, awareness and attention. I made sure there is additional space on each sign to incorporate arabic if later requested by the Arts Center. The use pictograms of toilets, stairs and lifts, for those whose English might not be there first language ensuring that the signs are suitable for all audience members, which exploit the dual red shade in their designs have also been incorporated on a side panel. The sign has a geometric panel of shades of grey and red on the side which provides space for pictograms. for signs that do not have pictograms associated with them, I decided to retain this panel design to up hold constistancy and provide the Arts Centre opportunity to add on extra information in that space is needed. In this sense the user can gather visual information about the purpose of the sign without even reading the text, whilst maintaining consistency in style and professionalism. It is important to mention that all signs have be designed to be used in either direction. Designs found below:

Going beyond the design brief, I felt it is of great significance to provide additional signage inside the lifts and just outside the lists, as well near staircases in order to help effectively direct visitors to the correct floors. These designs (found below), highlight what facilities are present and accessible to the visitor on each floor of the Arts Center.  The design incorporates the element of colour association and pictograms as explained above as well as clearly distinct symbols in the form of a small human figure and a pinpoint adjacent to the level to help make the visitor aware on which level the visitor is present in relation to the other levels.


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