Digital Code Inspires Wayfinding for WBX

Studio SC (Seattle) completed a branded building signage program for the Westin Building Exchange (WBX) in downtown Seattle, Wa. Graphics inspired by digital code and information streaming express the colocation provider’s progressive management style and visually assert the WBX as a leader in the fast-growing market of data storage.

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Arts & Business Council Award for ex;it and J2

J2 Design Partnership and ex;it Design Strategy (Philadelphia) will be honored with a Creative Economy Award for Distinction in a For-Profit Creative Field by the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia at an awards celebration on May 13.

As founder of both firms, Alan Jacobson helps organizations of diverse disciplines define their vision and design strategies for growth. Organizational brand strategy, experience design, and placemaking have been the focus of Alan’s research and design passion, applied in areas of education, healthcare, arts, science and technology, development, tourism, and public space.

J2 helps organizations design their next chapter and craft their stories. Strategies define the essence of clients’ brands: who they are and what they stand for. Messaging and communication tools are designed to inform and educate the public and gain support. Brian Jacobson partners as a principal and creative director of J2.

Clients include Brandywine Realty Trust, PHLCVB, Drexel University, Mural Arts Program, Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, Congresso, University of Pennsylvania, Village of Arts and Humanities, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Independence Visitors Center, University City Science Center, and Memorial Sloane Kettering.

2012 was the inaugural year for the Arts & Business Council’s Creative Economy Award for Distinction in a For-Profit Creative Field. This award strives to recognize a successful business having strong ties to Philadelphia’s creative sector and a unique positioning at the intersection between the arts and business.


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Looping Customers into an Enhanced Experience

Harbinger Sign provided The Loop Pizza Grill in Jacksonville with digital signage, while also punching up the interior with original art. The artwork was transformed into large-scale, vinyl graphic murals using Harbinger Sign’s large format Océ flatbed UV printer and 3M products. This furthered The Loop brand, and gave the restaurant interior a vibrant, friendly vibe.

Harbinger Sign ensured the branding efforts were more consistent and successful, resulting in an enhanced customer experience and a positive impact to a restaurateur’s bottom line. In The Loop’s case, raising a little more dough.

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Awards for Rowmark

Rowmark (Findlay, Ohio) was recognized in multiple award categories at the 2014 ARA International Awards Market in Las Vegas. The Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) is a prestigious membership organization of thousands of retailer and supplier companies dedicated to the advancement of the awards and engraving industry. The ARA recognizes exhibiting ARA retailer and supplier members for their achievements in creativity, product innovation, booth design, and more.

By attendee vote, Rowmark's popular new Hardwood Collection of laserable wood laminates was named as one of the industry's Best New Engravable Materials. Rowmark launched the Hardwood Collection in response to the demand for more versatile laserable wood materials for signage, custom architectural, craft, and artistry applications.

Rowmark was also one of three exhibitors to receive an award for Best Mega Booth. Their tradeshow booth featured an innovative signage and awards display, as well as an interactive demo of the popular new Rack Star laser cutting table system.

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Revitalizing Philly's Spring Garden Connector

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and Cloud Gehshan Associates (Philadelphia)/TLP design team recently unveiled environmental enhancements to revitalize Philadelphia's Spring Garden Connector. Inspired by the Spring Garden Greenway theme, CGA developed illuminated portal structures with intricate, American Wisteria-inspired patterns, designed to transform the dark bleak underpass that serves as an entrance to the heavily traveled SEPTA rail network and gateway to Northern Liberties. The CNC-routed panel/structures will be rear illumin
ated with a concealed lighting program that changes from morning to afternoon 
and into evening. The suspended lighting fixtures, co-designed with TLP, will project the wisteria pattern onto underpass surfaces and have a monochromatic blue violet color.

The project, described as “imaginative," "beautiful," and "a huge improvement"
 by public meeting attendees, is also a key component of the DRWC's master plan 
goal of connecting Center City Philadelphia to its Delaware River waterfront. The
 new portals are part of a larger lighting and streetscape improvement plan developed by the RBA Group and The Lighting Practice. Check out the PlanPhilly feature to learn more about this project and to view video from the community presentation. 

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Donor Recognition Explained

Saying “thank you” is a beautiful thing, and expressing gratitude to patrons who make building projects possible is a crucial and sometimes complex task for institutions on the receiving end of their gifts.

Donor recognition has become an important subset of environmental and experiential graphic design. No longer confined to the traditional approach of applying donor names to bronze plaques, donor recognition elements are often architecturally integrated, artful, installations that not only recognize donors, but add a unique sense of place. Often, they are so beautiful that they’re used as tools to encourage new donors as well as encourage the existing ones. As part of comprehensive environmental graphics programs, donor recognition systems are often tied thematically and visually to the organization’s mission, values, and brand.

Donor recognition programs take myriad forms, from static, sculptural solutions to installations that harness digital technology. To be cost-effective, they are designed with flexibility and longevity in mind, often with modular elements that allow the addition of names from year to year and campaign to campaign. They are found in a wide variety of venues where private donations are used to fund capital improvements, including healthcare facilities, educational campuses, museums and science centers, parks, and arts institutions.

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Documentation in Experiential Graphic Design

In environmental graphic design, documentation refers to the design phase dedicated to communicating the design intent of the graphics program to sign fabricators for pricing and production.

In the documentation phase, the design intent is conveyed through a series of drawings and documents, including sign location plans (exact locations where signs will be installed); message schedule (master inventory list for the entire program); design drawings (illustrations of the signs graphics and hardware, also called working drawings or design-intent drawings); and technical specifications (instructions to the sign fabricator).

Designers use a wide range of tools to create documentation packages, from Excel spreadsheets and more sophisticated databases such as Filemaker to rendering programs such as RevIt and Sketch-up and design software such as CAD and InDesign. Documentation is a crucial stage of the design process, as it will determine how closely the finished product matches the designer’s intent. Effective documentation requires extensive collaboration among designers, clients, fabricators, and suppliers.

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Digital Technology in Experiential Graphic Design

In experiential graphic design, digital technology refers to the means of creating, storing, processing, and displaying electronic communications in a built environment. Generally, media created using digital technology are displayed on computer screens or LED or LCD displays. However, evolving digital interfaces and projection technologies are increasing the array of surfaces on which moving images can appear.

Digital design focuses on the design of digitally mediated environments and experiences, including websites, web applications, exhibition experiences, and gaming. Digital signage, another application of digital technology, is made possible by the centralized distribution and playback of digital content on networks of displays. Digital signage often appears in retail applications and, in addition, is increasingly a component of comprehensive wayfinding systems designed for transportation and healthcare environments.

In experiential graphic design, digital technology is not necessarily confined to a computer screen, kiosk, or display. It is often scaled to the built environment, architecturally integrated, and designed as a user-focused experience. It frequently allows and encourages user interaction, particularly through interfaces such as gesture recognition software, motion sensors, or even facial recognition. It leverages sophisticated content management systems to create immersive, often temporal, constantly changing environments that can be customized to meet user needs and preferences.

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Design Research and Experiential Graphic Design

Design research or user research is research undertaken specifically to support the development of products, services, and systems that meet human needs. The primary goal of design research is to generate value for the end user, that is, to meet a specific need.

The design research process involves gathering, distilling, and applying information from user interactions, including user interviews, field surveys, and tests. Methods of data collection and the types of data collected differ from those used in market or academic research. Rather than collecting theoretical data, design research relies on gathering and synthesizing human insights and experiences, with the goal of using these insights and experiences to meet identified needs.

Increasingly, the design world is focusing on evidence-based design to research user needs and behaviors in the built environment, particularly their interaction with architectural spaces. In environmental and experiential graphic design, this research often takes the form of prototyping conceptual systems or communications (such as signage) to determine their effectiveness in helping people navigate spaces. Specific to signage and related visual communications in the built environment, design research has been focused on legibility, nomenclature, mapping, use of symbols, use of multiple languages, sign location, and other factors affecting the effectiveness of wayfinding and directional information systems.

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