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Have you ever heard of environmental graphic design?

Chances are if you have visited a museum or a retail store that has awesome larger than life graphics, then you have stumbled upon this multidisciplinary profession.

Contrary to the name, environmental graphic design does not involve using mother nature (or nature’s environment) to design. However, it is a design profession that merges interior design, architecture, and graphic design. Simply, the environmental graphic design consists of using built environments and communication to effectively display a message to the viewer. Traffic patterns and visual information is taken into consideration along with colors and sometimes branding to further enhance the intended message or story.

Environmental design can be applied to a multitude of atmospheres that range from museums, corporate spaces, retail stores, hospitals, and everything in between.

To further dive into the realms of environmental graphic design and help to clarify this misunderstood design area, here are four categories that environmental graphic design can be broken down into.

1. Wayfinding and Signage

An easy way to decipher what wayfinding is to simply think about it as giving directions through the use of signage to give whereabouts in a building. Wayfinding signage is frequently used in hospitals and city centers. They can easily be spotted in hallways or in lobbies. Most of the wayfinding signage uses navigational arrows and gives directions on how to get from one location to a destination. Maps are often used as references.


HSBC – Architectural Space

2. Information Design

Reading confusing information is always a headache which is why information design alleviates that frustration. Using intuitive planning, designers prepare information to make a sometimes complex set of information easier to understand and follow. In environmental design this can be done through the use of panels, question and answer flip books, touch screen interactives, and many more unique ways. When designing for museums, information design is one of the most important elements that has to be taken into consideration.

3. Architectural Spaces

When using environmental design, the space that an environment goes into is very important to ensure success. For example, architecture spaces are the base of environmental graphic design in museum exhibits. Traffic patterns are taken into high consideration to guarantee proper traffic flow. Interior design, landscape architecture, and industrial design often times come into play with this stage to further explore and enhance the potential of a space.


4. Retail Design

One of the main goal’s of any retail store is to leave a memorable impression with its customers so that their experience will be worthy of another trip back. Branding, colors, flooring, fixtures, music, and imagery are often used to help further create an environment for the customer.

A store such as J Crew will have a very different feel than an NFL store. The J Crew store will appeal to more of a sophisticated shopping group that and will use colors, imagery, and fixtures that portray that sophistication. The NFL store, however, will use bright bold colors and several sports elements that will help draw in their customers. These retail design elements also hold true for many corporate spaces and trade-show environments.


Adidas Flagship – Retail Space

In essence, environmental graphic design is a very broad area of graphic design that is made up of a range of components. The environmental graphic design builds and effectively communicates an environment to the viewer. If you would like to learn more about Environmental Graphic Design please visit SEGD -The Society of Environmental Graphic Designers.

If you have any questions about how Crux Creative can help design your next environment please contact us HERE.

Michele Allen

With over 30 years of design and marketing experience, I founded Crux in 2005, a 360° Creative and Marketing Agency, catering to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits. Specializing in experiential spaces, museums, brand development, and digital marketing, I excel in crafting memorable experiences while emphasizing the significance of authentic brand communication. I offer expertise in Brand Development, Trade Show Exhibits, Museums, Corporate Spaces, Interactives & VR/AR, and Digital Marketing, committed to tailored support and guidance.


  • Gary Favello says:

    I am building an art center. It will require the construction of 200 lanterns with residential quarters on the top two floors. The size is 3000 square feet per lantern. Each building will be unique. Do you do this kind of design and if not can you make a recommendation.
    Sincerely yours,
    Gary Favello

  • Gary,
    Thank you for reaching out. We can help develop the branding of the space. We are not architects, but we can definitely refer you to one of our great partners who do architecture.

  • Adam Mark says:

    Thank you for this really insightful article. Haven’t heard about the environmental graphic design.

  • I like how you mentioned that it is important to ensure success when planning. My uncle mentioned to me last night they are hoping to find a reliable environmental graphic design company that can help them grow their business brand and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to find one. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that he can consult a well-known environmental graphic design company as they can answer all their inquiries.