Read Time: 2.5 minutes
SEGD’s two-day mini-series, Wayfinding + Placemaking NOW, addressed the design of wayfinding systems and public spaces that feel safe and welcoming in our current global crises: the health pandemic, social unrest, economic volatility, and environmental decline. This is the moment when designers are being called on to reimagine public spaces, and present solutions for engaging and connecting to the places that surround us. The responses were illuminating.
Pentagram Partner and SEGD Fellow, Paula Scher, kicked off the event with a virtual tour of the re-opened New York City High Line. Manuel Miranda, founder of Manuel Miranda Project and a commissioner with the New York City Public Design Commission, delivered the first keynote, “Identity and Place.” Miranda presented two projects: Hunters Point Shoreline environmental graphics for client Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and Great Falls Great Food Great Stories a project for Hamilton Partnership in Paterson, N.J.—both were projects where community voices influenced design outcomes.
Global presentations and moderated roundtables were the heart of Wayfinding + Placemaking NOW. On day one, we brought together Africa, Oceania, and Southeast Asia with Nick Kapica of Isthmus in Wellington, New Zealand; Paul Tabouré and Charlie Bromley with There in Sydney; Baarish Date of Graphics Beyond in Mumbai, India; and Mohammed Jogie with Morning Star Design in Johannesburg, South Africa. Each explored recent projects that capitalize on local community resources and assets, available technologies, and in-depth research. Event co-chair Despina Macris of DotDash in Brisbane, Australia, led a robust moderated discussion afterward, discussing fresh approaches to inclusion, accessibility, safety, education, and universal design.
On day two, social psychiatrist Dr. Mindy Fullilove, professor at New York’s New School and author of several books including recently published “Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All,” focused on the social and environmental factors that affect the mental health of communities. For the second global roundtable, we assembled Sherwood Choe of YiEUM Partners in Seoul; Inguna Elere and Dagnija Balode of H2E in Riga, Latvia; Jose Allard with Wayfinding, and Rodrigo Ramirez of Pontificia Universidad Católica, both from Santiago, Chile. Through presentations and a moderated conversation with SEGD CEO Cybelle Jones, these designers discussed best practices in signage, environmental communication, and icon-making given new paradigms and behaviors related to crises like the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The group also shared their perspectives on the evolving market demand for experiences in urban centers, retail environments, airports, healthcare facilities, and the like.
Event co-chair Jemma Radick, with Kansas City firm Populous Activate, led a mini workshop at the end of the second day where participants worked on virtual teams in three breakout rooms to ponder what’s working, what’s not, and what’s possible, presenting their solutions through collaborative digital tools. As a treat, we shared a virtual tote bag full of reading recommendations, sponsor tips and tools, and news of upcoming events.
Big thanks are owed to Wayfinding + Placemaking NOW Presenting Sponsors Color-Ad and Sign Agent, as well as supporting sponsors DCL, DE Powder Coated Graphics, IMG Image Manufacturing Group, Urban Sign and Welch Sign, without whom we cannot produce our programming.