Impossible pictograms: A journey to the outcome

To summarise, impossible pictograms plays on the notion of providing an outrageous comical solution to simple yet important problems in the sphere of wayfinding on campus. As an exercise it is intended to raise awareness of some of the poor wayfinding strategies in order to stimulate a discussion on the importance of accessibility and mobility.

In implementing my initial idea of a tunnel between the Campus Center in C2 and the Arts Center in C3, as a solution to combat the restricted doors which prevent the user from pursuing the most direct route between the 2 buildings and instead forcing one on inefficient undesired route outside (as detailed in a previous post), there were a few changes and additions to the concept. Initially, the pictograms signified the use of a shovel in order for the user to dig the tunnel. However due to difficulties finding and obtaining such shovel, I decided to replace this with a pickaxe in the designs. This was not only based on the professor’s recommendations, it can be concluded that a pickaxe is a more traditional tool for digging and symbolises greater motion in the pictograms, but also due to being able to obtain a tool which replicates the look of a pickaxe.

Parallel to my individual project of using floor sings, I decided to implement floor lines as part of the installation and in the designs of the pictograms as an indicator of the suitability of floor signage as a wayfinding strategy on campus. These floor lines would act as a guide to where to start digging, through providing a square with a central X, and the route of the tunnel, through following the lines. Based on a brief verbal survey, it was concluded that the best colour for such floor lines would be blue. This is because the colour provides sufficient visibility (it can be easily seen and distinguished on the floor in relation its dark grey colour) and the colour is not too intrusive to the surroundings of the location of the installation. As such I replicated the blue lines on the pictograms through incorporating them in the process of digging the tunnel.

Due to the complex nature of the task of digging a tunnel, I decided that a set of simple in instructions would help guide the user and as such should be implemented into the final design. The set of instructions alongside the final altered pictogram designs mentioned above can be found below:

In order to make this exercise more professional, I created the ‘Office of Campus Navigation’ a fictional department with its very own purple ‘map pin’ logo. The logo and brand was finalised in the same place on each of the pictograms. I tried to replicate the Arts Center’s logo through using the dual shade of red in referencing the Arts Center. In this way I able to successfully use the identity of the Arts Center without directly inflicting the institution with the responsibilities of this installation. I further provided props in the form of a yellow tool box containing a working head lamp and safety goggles to fulfil the health and safety component typical to similar manual tasks. This aspect was also incorporated into the instructions as seen above.

Below are pictures of the installation located in the Campus Center (level 0) at the East side exit:

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Based on feedback of those passing by, there was an all positive reaction. People highly liked the idea and the professional implementation of the pictograms and the associated components, and agreed with the problem it highlights of access between the campus Center and Arts Center. However, embodying the more critical comments of the class, it was suggested that to make the instructions simpler and restrict them to only a word or a few words. In this way there can be greater emphases placed on user the effective pictograms provided as the main guiding tool for the user. Below are the altered designs based on these recommendations:

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