Representing indigenous voices in Hawai‘i and around the world has never been more important. Their knowledge systems are inherently tuned to local contexts and have to a great extent, been erased from daily life.
Students today do not want to be a party to the institutional marginalization of indigenous and minority communities. They expect their institutions of higher learning to be at the forefront of the fight for social justice. As universities across the country and around the world confront their pasts, the source of their lands, and the actors that built their institutions, they must enter into dialogues with the very communities that they have historically marginalized through their actions.
Students, especially those that identify as being part of an underrepresented population, have to be an integral part of this process. They must be included in imagining a new way forward and be partners in building a more just and equitable world.
The Office of Vice President of Administration initiated this project with the understanding that the physical campus, which was primarily built before the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, needs to transform itself to better represent Native Hawaiians and take an active role in regenerating and normalizing Hawaiian language and culture.
From the outset, the project was envisioned as a deeply integral part of campus infrastructure.
Design + Execution
Early work was informed by shadowing prospective students and their families on a dozen campus tours and conducting one-on-one interviews with them. This process revealed an overwhelming expectation to see more physical representation of Native Hawaiian culture on the campus and a desire to actively participate in its perpetuation as a student. The Beyond Wayfinding project has sparked cross-departmental conversations and resulted in the generous contributions of more than 100 faculty, researchers, and students.
Led by two Principal Investigators, one an architecture professor and the other a user researcher and design strategist, the team was composed of undergraduate and graduate research assistants from graphic design, architecture, UI/UX, and business, the majority of which were raised in Hawai‘i and included several that identify as Native Hawaiian. Supported by the UH Native Hawaiian Program Office, the inter-professional team conducted generative design workshops and constructed prototypes and full-scale mock-ups on the campus to gather contextually-informed feedback. Final design concepts formed the basis of an RFP that required the inclusion of a Native Hawaiian design team to build upon and further the design system.
University of Hawai’i
Brian Strawn, Karla Sierralta (UH, conceptual & systems design)
Sig Zane Kaiao
Kūha’o Zane (conceptual & graphic design)
Sig Zane (textile & graphic artist)
Nalani Kanaka’ole (cultural practitioner)
Global Specialty (design-build contractor)
Two Twelve (fabrication consultant & campus map designer)
CRĒO Industrial Arts (fabrication)
Tom Takata Photography (photography)
Hunter Wells (videography)
Coby Shimabukuro-Sanchez (videography)
Tre Zamora (videography)
Jack Ames (videography)
John ‘Eiwa Colburn IX (videography)