The first part of the wayfinding design process takes place on the screen or the page. But once the system is designed and the strategy is chosen, it comes time to find the material that will bring the design to life. Whatever material is chosen, be it laminate, wood, metal, plastic or a screen, the finished product, the sign, has to be durable, legible and visually appealing.
What if the formula was turned on its head, and the material came before the design? Like drawing a familiar object upside down, considering the material before thinking about design forces the creative brain out of its comfort zone.
A long-time collaborator, designer Matthias Reinicke, explained that the materials he chooses to work with have a big impact on his creativity (read the full interview). Working with something versatile, something that goes beyond the traditional materials for sign making and interpretive panels, can change the entire design game.
When he wasn’t constrained by the traditional material he worked with (high-pressure laminate), Matthias began to see new shapes and new ways to convey information.
Overcome information overload with novelty
Getting a message across requires creativity and ingenuity, especially when competing with digital signage. With all the visual information on display even on a walk in the woods, let alone in a city, signage can get lost in the visual overload that is modern life. After a while, signs become part of the scenery.
Bold colors, unexpected shapes and information presented on multiple planes shakes people out of complacency. It alleviates information overload in fun and unexpected ways. A sign or panel that breaks down the traditional model of a flat, rectangular plane compels people to walk to discover and learn new things about where they are and where they are going. Signs that get people to interact are signs that work.
Driving wayfinding creativity with the right materials
The right material can help designers do so much more than convey basic information. Ultimately, an innovative, versatile material can drive and define the design and execution of a wayfinding or informational system.
There is one more thing to consider. All the creativity and strategy in the world doesn’t count if a sign doesn’t last. That’s where ALTO comes in.
How ALTO connects creativity and durability
Post caps, returns, different shapes and vibrant colors allow designers to arrange information and visuals in visually-engaging ways.