Thursday, 25 August 2011

Way Finding Graphics and...

Some people love it, others think it says it all!
Crystal clear and uncluttered??
Those that know me know that I like colour and graphics..... when used carefully and sparingly. Both can and should help create the feel of the environment. This doesn't just apply to schools but to all sorts of public venues.
I admire those that are artistic enough and have 'the eye' to get it just right. However, all too often places, including schools, can get taken along by architects and designers even if it is not exactly the feel that they want.
The graphics in the two photographs in this post do demonstrate a clear style - the venue is not a school but a public building. The style is big bold and in your face. However, the graphics provoked a major discussion between the group of educators and architects I was with. The door to the stairs (and is that a lift?) was a particular example.... put the graphics together with buttons and fire extinguishers and it all looked a bit cluttered and wrong.
Just recently I was discussing a disagreement between a school and its architects. Whilst the latter wanted huge graphics all in capital letters, the school, which has an excellent reputation for working with students with dyslexia, noted that graphics with all capitals was not good practice for their students.... in other words, the end users. Concepts, colour, being bold is fab, but it does also have to be functional.
The architect's reaction was to try and stick to their idea, despite these very valid educational complaints. They noted that it was part of the whole concept for their design. Sorry guys - it's not your building at the end of the day.
It is quite hard for many head teachers, they may not be good at graphics, but equally may not want to go back to the little traditional name plates on doors of old in a new school. Add to that that the interior design aspects of a new school build, including colour, graphics and way finding, are often covered in only one design meeting (or two if you're lucky) then decisions have to be made quickly. Those that haven't prepared or don't think this through carefully are in danger of ending up with 'stuff' that they weren't expecting and may not even like.
In the case of the school mentioned above? The school won - quite right too!
Big, bold and colourful - but is it too much?


Anonymous said...

I like the door to the stairs.

Not too sure about the 'HELP' desk - who is seeking to be helped?

As for the toilet doors, an elegant design could be to have the symbols in the middle of the door, matching the door handles.

CumbriaSEOwithRay said...

The help desk does smack you in the eyeballs a bit doesn't it. I am very surprised that the architects in question blew it so badly, by not understanding the very real issue highlighted by the school. The door handles on the 2nd photo look a wee bit scrawny!! Should've sent the architects to us.