Cincinnati Chapter

Cincinnati, OH Blog

June Write About It

Lisa Bambach
Designer + Educator
BHDP Architecture

Our June Write About It guest columnist Lisa Bambach shares her experiences discovering Austin during the 2019 SEGD Conference.

replaceable letter sign
The most quintessentially SEGD Austin collection of signage features a new sign, tacos, and BBQ. (E. César Chávez Street)

On the last morning of the SEGD Conference, I wandered from downtown Austin under the I-35 overpass down East César Chávez Street in search of coffee. The morning greeted me with the incessant chatter of flamboyant great-tailed grackles and the deep hum of construction equipment. After thirty minutes, already feeling the heat of the Texas summer sun, I arrived at my destination and prepared for the day with a cappuccino, a plate of buttered toast, and some over easy eggs.

flat track recycled post sign
Flat Track Coffee repurposes an existing sign post and complements the patina with Corten signage. (E. César Chávez Street)

My walk back to the conference was not particularly eventful. It was a sleepy Saturday morning, and most of the people in the city had yet to start their day. However, as I took a second turn down César Chávez Street towards downtown, the street began to reveal to me what the many speakers at the conference were attempting to articulate as they described their beloved city.

I had heard Austin described as having a bit of "funk," a little "scrappy," and "rough around the edges," but found it difficult to comprehend exactly what they were describing. It was my first time visiting the great state of Texas, and I had spent most of my time amongst the glossy, new high rises in Austin's central business district. From slides and discussion panels, I had learned that Austin was a small town reconciling with its newfound identity as a major city. There was a great pride in the city coupled with a sense of urgency — something that was core to the identity of the city's inhabitants was at risk of being disrupted by over-planning and over-design.

history modernity
History and modernity sit side-by-side along West César Chávez Street in downtown Austin. (W. César Chávez Street)

Amidst the first ring suburbs, Austin's spirit manifested itself through the hand lettering and neon signs of small businesses. Via a little bit of rust and some weathering from the sun, the grit which Austin's design community had so fondly described began to speak to me of the city's true character. While not all of the street's businesses and signage were of the past, the signage collectively emulated the visual language that has come to define the city, capturing through materiality an Austin informality, honesty, and sense of humor.

hand painted vintage sign
Hand painted and vintage signage create a collage of the offerings at Cenote café. (E. César Chávez Street)

In true Texas fashion, much of Austin is adorned with large graphics that call out boldly for your attention. This is especially apparent downtown, where the scale of the signage fluctuates dramatically in size alongside the city's evolving skyline. Spurred by economic development and an influx of an average of 120 new residents each day, the design community is adapting to the new demand for space within the city.

Public spaces have become crucial for equity not only among Austin's residents but also between increased urbanity and Austin's natural habitats. Refuges for people and wildlife alike are designed into a vast network of parks that create corridors from urban spaces toward the Colorado River and community spaces like the downtown public library.

Austin greenways and high-rises
Austin's greenways emerge from the city's newly constructed high-rise landscape. (Shoal Creek)

Upon my visit to the Austin Central Public Library, I found myself developing some serious library envy. The building is a visible, physical statement by the local municipality that communicates a desire to put the public first. I meandered from a mixed-use district across the Shoal Creek Trail and through the library's gardens, where a macro bike icon identified a parking amenity to the approaching school children. When I entered, I was drawn up the grand staircase by the filtered, natural light pouring in through the façade and laughter from the children's library, and to my surprise, I hadn't even considered taking the elevator to ascend to the rooftop gardens on the 6th floor.

library bike icon
Residents approach the large-scale bicycle icon to park their vehicles before entering the library. (Austin Central Public Library)

As I wandered the space, I discovered the signage system within the building focused on the users' need to gather and seek the discovery of knowledge together. The overhead signage made finding amenities like "information" and "self check-out" a simple task from across a room. Large-scale floor plans next to the elevators made it easy to navigate the library's main sections and multiple floors. Additionally, the subject matter titles were placed at eye level atop the bookshelves so they would be plainly visible as one entered a section.

library check-out
Informative signage makes the library easy to navigate and accessible. Universal icons are used to communicate to all language speakers. (Austin Central Public Library)

The experiential graphics were not only informative, but they also created playful moments throughout the space. The infographic that detailed the history of the local electric infrastructure was cleverly placed on a window that overlooked the utilitarian structure outside. Sturdy letterforms were accessible for children to climb upon, inviting them to directly interact with the word "CHILDREN."

Austin library childrens section
Children play chess and clamber onto large-scale wooden letterforms. (Austin Central Public Library)

The Austin Central Public Library was filled with life and energy. From a business group utilizing the reservable rooms as a secondary office space to youth organizing their regular Magic the Gathering meet up, it was clear to me that the library was a space designed with the user experience in mind — a space for all people to feel welcome and enjoy.

After exploring Austin for the three days of the 2019 SEGD Conference, it is apparent to me from first-hand experience that Austin's passionate design community is not afraid to be bold, is proud of their Austin "funk," and aspires to put the needs of their neighbors first.

View even more photos on our Facebook page.

TOUR: Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal

Cincinnati's historic landmark Union Terminal reopened in November 2018 after a $228 million, 2.5-year restoration that required "a keen understanding of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and history as modern construction and engineering techniques blended with early 20th-century materials and design." (

We are incredibly fortunate to offer an exclusive tour of the Art Deco landmark, directed by Nick Cates of GBBN, the project architect of the Terminal's restoration. Nick's resume also includes such high-profile projects as the new Statue of Liberty Museum and redevelopment of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

This tour is FREE, but attendance is limited to 20, so you MUST RESERVE YOUR TICKET on Eventbrite. Family and friends of the SEGD Cincinnati Chapter are welcome to attend; please reserve a ticket for each attendee.

We will meet inside the main entrance of Union Terminal at 4:30 (parking on-site is $6). Afterward, we'll head to Harvest Pizzeria in Over-the-Rhine for drinks and dinner, and a chance to catch up!

(Ticketed Event) Join SEGD Cincinnati for a delicious evening of creativity. Tablespoon Cooking Co. will provide paired appetizers, and Revel will offer a tour through their urban winery with a guided wine tasting.

Each of us draws inspiration in different ways, whether we're tasked with creating artwork, graphics, or a space (or all of the above!). How do chefs and winemakers find inspiration, and what processes do they use to take their ideas into savory reality?

Only 30 spots are available for this unique event. Tickets may be purchased through Eventbrite, and are offered at a significant discount thanks to the generosity of Allen Industries.

"Tablespoon's culinary experiences and private events are designed to give you the best Cincinnati has to offer. Our staff have experience working in restaurants across Greater Cincinnati AND around the nation."

"Revel OTR Urban Winery is a boutique urban winery, wine collective, and event space specializing in promoting local, regional and family-owned wineries. Located in Cincinnati's historic and progressive OTR neighborhood, we specialize in handcrafted small batch wines using a process that originated in Italy by the Maieron family which has been passed down generation to generation."

October Write About It

Matt Berlage
ASI Signage
[email protected]

Okay, not so sexy – but you, the creative one, have put your heart and soul into the design so it might as well last! We all hope the signage you designed will effectively serve the wayfinding and identity needs for years to come. To help you achieve that goal, below are some easy to follow care and maintenance instructions to share with your clients for their interior or exterior signage.

As you know, some signage systems can range in cost from a good used car to a brand new sports or luxury car straight off the showroom floor. As every car owner knows, routine maintenance and care of the car helps ensure the best performance and longest life. The same can be said for interior and exterior signage.

The following is a list of tips and recommendations. Also, bear in mind that these are general "rules of thumb" and that signage can be made from a wide variety of substrates and have different kinds of finishes. Therefore, when in doubt, please contact your fabricator for specific care and maintenance instructions.

Interior Signage (no Braille, raised lettering, silkscreen, or vinyl text applied to the surface)

  • Signs should be dusted/cleaned once each season (every 90 days/3 months)
  • Use a clean, non-abrasive cotton cloth or paper towel to gently dust the signage
  • If spots or fluids have accumulated, you can use a mild soap and water mixture to gently wipe down the sign, but you must blot-dry the sign completely. Do not leave moisture on the sign and do not scrub the surface where letters are present

Interior Signage with Braille or raised letters and logos

  • Signs should be dusted/cleaned once each season (every 90 days/3 months)
  • Use a clean, non-abrasive cotton cloth to gently dust the signage (canned air can also be used)
  • Signs should be kept in climate-controlled environments and should not be subjected to high levels of humidity or accumulated moisture
  • If liquids are accidentally applied to the sign, blot-dry the sign completely

Cleaning Acrylic Panel Signs and Plastic Parts and Components

  • Use a moistened damp cloth with mild detergent. Take care not to damage any paper inserts used by making sure the cloth does not contain excessive water
  • Always be careful to ensure no dust or dirt particles are rubbed into the surface and never use paper towels to clean the surface
  • For plastic parts and components, use a clean soft cloth moistened with mild detergent and then dry them

Exterior Signage (Aluminum, Fiberglass, Acrylic)

  • Signs should be washed once each season (every 90 days/3 months)
  • Exterior signs should be washed with clean water and car shampoo as required
  • Car shampoo contains wax to protect and preserve the painted surface

Never Use the Following Items

  • Abrasive cloths, sponges, or scrubbing brushes
  • Cloths that were used to clean other surfaces (helps avoid unintended chemical reactions)
  • Detergents containing ammonia or solvents
  • Methylated spirits, solvents, or any acids
  • Detergents containing abrasives
  • Powerful steam or high pressure cleaning machines

Graffiti Removal: Simple Rules for Successful Removal on Non-ADA Signs

Treatment with graffiti remover must never take place in direct sun or on hot panels. The panel must always be cleaned with cold water to remove dirt such as sand, soil, etc. It is always a good idea to test the purchased graffiti remover on a non-visible part of the sign to make sure that the surface is not damaged. Graffiti remover is applied using a soft cloth and the entire affected area must be kept wet for approximately 3-4 minutes and must never dry out. If part of the affected area is about to dry out, apply more graffiti remover. Finally, wash the panel with cold water. Please try to avoid applying graffiti remover to any applied vinyl text and be careful to avoid the vinyl text during the wash-off phase. If graffiti covers the vinyl text, it might be best to remove and reapply it.

Environmental Impact and Other Factors to Consider for Exterior Signs

Where the sign is located and what the sign is exposed to can alter the maintenance schedule. Within industrial areas, corrosive particles are more prevalent. Lime, oil based deposits, sulfur dioxide, acids and other types of airborne pollutants can all adversely affect painted surfaces if signs are not adequately maintained.

  • Trees and foliage resins, pollen, and bird droppings should be removed promptly to avoid any damage.
  • In coastal areas, high concentrations of salt, particularly if coupled with high humidity, may adversely affect the wear characteristics of painted finishes.
  • All painted and plastic components fade over time, particularly in areas of strong sunlight. Appropriate color selection can minimize this effect, as can treating the surface with a wax-based cleaning fluid.

Also, be sure to remove protective wrapping. Wrapping is designed to protect the sign panels during shipment and the wrapping should be removed immediately. If left on and exposed to the elements, the wrapping may damage the surface of the sign. Once the protective wrapping material has been removed, regular cleaning is recommended.

Finally, consider native plants in the landscape. One simple and effective tip to extend the life of exterior signs is to plant native plants at the base of exterior signs. Native plants can withstand the local climate and require little maintenance, and they protect the posts and base of the signs by preventing lawn crews from accidentally striking the signs with mowers and weed eaters.

Proper care and maintenance involves observing a few simple rules and will help maintain the signs' attractive appearance and ensure a longer life. They are also easier to read, and convey a positive impression to visitors and staff! Happy cleaning!

ASI Signage has served the Ohio Valley for over 35 years and is a proud Women Owned Business. Some of our clients include ERS, Cincinnati Children's, Kettering Health, Chris Hospital, the University of Dayton, Sinclair College, Caresource, 84.51, and Great American Insurance. Matt Berlage started with ASI in 2010. Content in part contributed by

We had an amazing time in Minneapolis for the 2018 SEGD Conference! Were you there, and want to relive all the fun? Couldn't make it, but want to know what we saw and learned? Head over to the CCA+D on August 15th to grab drinks and snacks with us, and cruise through photos and takeaways from our time in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, August 15th 5:30 PM
1114 Race St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Please let us know if you can attend via Eventbrite. Some of the awesomeness you'll hear about:

Minneapolis City Tours
Nexpo Exhibits
Young Designers Summit
Academic Summit

In the meantime, check out SEGD's official conference photos on Facebook.


SEGD is the smallest, friendliest, most open design association. Join and find out what community really means!.