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15 Jun 2018

PG alumna snaps up a prestigious US award

Emme Jacob, MA Communication Design alumna 2017, has received the Merit Award 2018 from The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) in Minneapolis, USA.

The prestigious award was earned by her final project, ‘Any > Which > Way’. A flexible signage system for new workspaces culture.

Emme realised that temporary workspace culture is a fast-emerging market and a part of the growth of that trend has been driven by a desire to support creative entrepreneurialism in high-rent cities and temporary architecture to act as a platform for creative experimentation. Design-led furniture companies have targeted this trend with ready-to-buy furniture that is sustainable and reusable for temporary spaces.

Flexible signage systems for these spaces are not a new concept, however, the purpose of this practice-based research was to design an off-the-shelf signage system that eliminated the need for costly and time-consuming design consultancy. More importantly, this signage system would empower users of a space to install and rearrange signs themselves, with the primary influence being their own environmental experience of the workspace. Passive readers and compilers of temporary signage would become active communicators within their ever-changing environments.

The ‘Any > Which > Way’ wayfinding tool encompasses a custom-designed stencil typeface, coordinating pictograms and a modular three-piece signage system. The system is efficiently and affordably fabricated on a CNC router made out of sustainable materials. The custom-designed typography and pictograms are key in ensuring that all elements of the signage can be milled with one drill on a CNC machine, and remain stable and distinguishable as cutout forms.

To achieve future-proof flexibility, the signage system was rigorously tested and refined into a simple, resolved product. Simplicity is not only the absence of complexity but the accessibility of function. The success of ‘Any > Which > Way’ was further established through comprehensive visual language. If a signs’ icon is not immediately recognizable, its purpose becomes distinguishable in its environmental context. A person with continued experience within an environment can then quickly learn and decipher a signage system that maintains consistent visual style and cues.

The future applications of this project are far-reaching: The off-the-shelf and made-to-order distribution of this design system could save companies huge amounts of money and time. This system allows companies, particularly those for which managing expenses is a daily struggle, to utilise an affordable wayfinding system of high-quality build, materials and aesthetic in ever-changing spaces, instead of traditional systems designed for one space and for one user group.

The project has been photographed by one of her colleagues during her time at Ravensbourne, Ragnhild Utne, another MA Communication Design alumna. Teamwork and collaboration are some of the aims of our students here. The jury, chaired by Christina Lyons, had great comments about the project:

“Playful, thoughtful, beautiful and flexible. This project is so succinctly clever.”

“This is a delightfully simple and functional system and the video was a charming example.”

Amazing things happen here