For my last post, I will resume the usual format: I will discuss a variety of different design and wayfinding-related topics, however this time they will be more about personal experiences than about class discussions. The topics are:
- Dubai Trip Observations
- Struggles with Bureaucracy
- Two Funny Signs
- Why Wayfinding Isn’t About “Getting Used to It”
- A Personal Reflection On Design
(1) Dubai Trip Observations
The trip to Dubai and to the Etihad Museum was absolutely wonderful (and not just because of the amazing Italian food). Every part of the museum was so carefully designed and put together; everything was shiny, clean, and simply stunning. In this post, I wanted to comment on eight specific things I (or sometimes, we) noticed during the trip.
(2) Struggles With Bureaucracy
Planning a night to test my individual project by projecting a sign onto a residence hall has been a bit of a nightmare. However, I know what the problem was: I should have known that there would be a lot of bureaucracy, and I should have contacted Professor Puccetti for help earlier. I naively thought I could just gather the materials myself and hold the projection night without contacting school departments; then, when I discovered that I could not do so, I entered into an enormous maze of bureaucracy. Just in the past two days, I have given or received over 40 emails about the projection night, and will certainly receive more between now and tomorrow evening. However, with Professor Puccetti’s help, everything will go as planned, and hopefully — if all goes well — I will be holding the “event” tomorrow night (April 27th) from 7:30 – 8:30 PM. All are welcome to come check it out (it won’t be too exciting, my apologies).
The image below briefly details the process of getting the power source, and it actually (believe it or not) portrays the process as much easier than it truly was:
Update: It actually turned out that I will need a generator, and I am currently settling all the details to hold the event at A6A with the generator on the evening of April 27th. The departments have actually been very fast and helpful, to which I owe Professor Puccetti for making the requirements of my project so clear to the officials involved.
[Last thoughts: throughout this process, I have very clearly seen what Professor Puccetti refers to as a “policy over outcome” approach. Meaning, that the university is slowly starting to value policy (specific processes, steps, requirements, etc.), over the actual outcome and actuality of certain actions/events. For example, even though there is a plug indoors about twenty feet from the place I need to use the projector, I was not permitted to use an extension cord and go ahead with the project because of strict policies/rules. As Professor Puccetti has said, policies are only supposed to help people and make things easier; if they are making things harder they are not fulfilling their job, and become arbitrary and harmful.]
(3) Two Funny (?) Signs
Just for fun, I wanted to write about two interesting signs I have seen around campus.
a. The first is a hand-made sign — a post-it note — I saw stuck to the elevator buttons at the elevator next to the cafeteria. Clearly, the fact that this woman had to go to the lengths of creating her own “signage” to help people find her office indicates that there is a major wayfinding problem on campus.
b. The second sign is one that Professor Puccetti pointed out to me. It is located behind the bushes on a wall of the lifts next to the campus center on the second floor. Personally, I believe it is the most helpful sign on campus: I mean, at least if people never see it they can’t be confused by it, right?
(4) Why Wayfinding Isn’t About “Getting Used to It”
It is always nice to find out that you were right about something, and while doing research/interviews for my individual project it has been confirmed that I am not a crazy individual for thinking that the lack of clear signage on the residence halls is incredibly detrimental. However, I discovered something else that is strange: many NYUAD students, having lived on campus for several years, take a while to remember how bad the signage is. They often say something like this: “Well, it was difficult in the beginning — I remember always being confused at first trying to find my dorm/my friend’s dorms — but I guess now I’m used to it.” Since they have “gotten used to it” they are not that concerned about it anymore. However, whenever I hear something like this, I cannot help but think: wayfinding is not about “getting used to something,” it is about how easy it should be to find something the first time. Of course, once you know where something is, it feels obvious, but the fact is that it is not obvious, and wayfinding issues will never improve unless people stop being so complacent in their thinking.
(5) A Personal Reflection on Design
While taking this class, I have gone back and forth about design. Sometimes I am so excited about it, and feel like this is what I should be doing. Other times I feel like I am terrible at it: I think, I am not a good artist, do I really want to spend my whole life on Photoshop, is this an intellectual enough field for me, etc. While these (largely unfounded) fears/questions do not haunt me anymore, I have been thinking a bit about what I really like to do/am really good at.
In general, I have started to realize that what I really like doing, more than designing beautiful, artistic things, is organizing information. I like breaking it up, editing it, formatting it, organizing it into a visually-pleasing arrangement, and making it easy for people to understand. I have always felt that there are so many things that are made unnecessarily complex, or are simply confusing because they are not presented in a coherent, attractive manner. How this tendency/knack of mine fits into design is something that I am still learning, and on the way it has also shown me that I need to work harder on my weaker areas — creativity, artistic skills, etc. Regardless, I am so incredibly happy that I switched into this class, and even if I do not know what the future holds for me design-wise, I believe that the skills I have learned are going to help me in the future in all types of ways.