Design as process was the focus of Design360's collaboration with AIGA on the 365:AIGA 27 Exhibition at AIGA headquarters in New York. The project allowed Design360 to focus on design's basic elements—technique, materials, and colors—and how each is influenced by the others.
The result was a designer's laboratory. The show's identity was applied to a chalkboard-covered wall in the gallery, where visitors were encouraged to leave their thoughts about the winning entries. The people and processes making up each entry, from Design Firm (Df) and Client (Ci) to Typeface (Tf) and Binding Method (Bi), were "elements" on an oversized Periodic Table that allowed viewers to see the relationships and contrasts among competition categories.
The Periodic Table was a series of clear acrylic 8-by-9-in. rectangles backpainted in one of eight category colors, with vinyl type applied to the front surface. Each rectangle was mounted to the chalkboard wall with a floating backer that varied in depth depending on the number of times each element was recognized in each category—pure information design. The varying depths added dimensionality to the table and created the illusion that it was floating over the wall.
Color coding established in the periodic table was carried through to displays and design-related "labware" props. Colored lines on the floor delineated the categories by highlighting and tying multiple tables and wall-mounted entries together.
To conserve resources, the designers retrofitted AIGA's existing worktables to simulate the lab environment, therefore creating less waste. Flexible tabletop signage can be flipped over and used again for future exhibits.
Design360 team developed the exhibit around the winning entries, coordinated component fabrication and printing of exhibit collateral, and coordinated on-site installation. The project budget was $25,000.
"Designing an exhibit with so many pieces with limited resources and for a relatively small space is a creative challenge. The designers have risen to that challenge and created a beautiful and thoughtful installation. Taking the idea of the design laboratory, the design team developed a thematic language that distinguishes this year's exhibit from others that have preceded it. Using beautifully handled typography, a colorful periodic table, a chalkboard comment wall, and simple work tables, the exhibit design enhances the pure experience of looking at the design work."
Jill Ayers (creative director), Rachel Einsidler (senior designer)
Lisa Hein, Bob Seng (installation)
291 Digital (banner), Xibitz (displays), ColorX (logo), Refined Sight (interpretive panels), Benjamin Moore Paints (paint), Precision Engraving (periodic table of elements), The Sign Company (wall vinyl), Applied Image (floor vinyl)