What is environmental graphic design?
Chances are, if you have visited a museum or retail store with fantastic, larger-than-life graphics, 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. Environmental graphic design uses built environments and communication to display a message to the viewer effectively. 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 think about it as giving directions through 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.
2. Information Design
Reading confusing information is always a headache, so information design alleviates that frustration. Using intuitive planning, designers prepare information to make sometimes complex information more accessible to understand and follow. In environmental design, this can be done through 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 essential elements that must be considered.
3. Architectural Spaces
When using environmental design, the space an environment enters is very important to ensure success. For example, architectural 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 oftentimes come into play at 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 like J Crew will have a 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 for many corporate spaces and trade show environments.
In essence, environmental graphic design is a vast area of graphic design comprising a range of components. The environmental graphic design builds and effectively communicates an environment to the viewer. To learn more about Environmental Graphic Design, please visit SEGD -The Society of Experiential Graphic Designers.