Where am I? What can I do here? Where can I go from here? Consciously or not, we ask such questions every day as we navigate the places and spaces of our lives. Whether we find ourselves in a museum, hospital, train station, park, or street in an unfamiliar city, we depend on systems of visual, audible, and tactile cues not only to lead the way, but also to keep us safe. They are the fundamental questions of wayfinding—a process that encompasses both the experience of choosing a path within a built environment and the set of design elements that aid in such a decision.
In February 2009, Princeton Architectural Press published David Gibson’s guide to the environmental graphic design process. The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places has rapidly become a seminal work representing the field.
A decade ago, the professional practice of wayfinding design simply involved devising sign systems. Today, the field is much broader and continues expanding, addressing new technological developments—kinetic media, GPS systems, web connectivity, and smart materials—as well as cultural changes in areas such as branding and environmental awareness. A cross-disciplinary familiarity with graphic, architectural, landscape, interior, industrial, and information design has become an essential requirement of 21st century wayfinding design.
The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places is the newest volume in Princeton Architectural Press’s acclaimed Design Brief series. Gibson, founding partner of Two Twelve (New York) draws on nearly 30 years of experience collaborating with architects, planners, developers, facilities managers, and civic leaders to offer an insider’s view of this rapidly evolving discipline. Using real-life examples, Gibson illustrates the way type, color, mapmaking, dimensional forms, material selection, and new media are used to create effective wayfinding systems.
The Wayfinding Handbook is a complete guide to the discipline, from planning and design to practical considerations, such as setting up teams and managing projects. “Other Voices” sidebars, presented throughout the book, reveal the opinions of experts who plan, manage, and shape wayfinding projects. A comprehensive bibliography and gallery of resources round out what is becoming the go-to source for students, professionals, or anyone charged with designing people-friendly, universally accessible environments.
Laura Varacchi (creative director); Vijay Mathews, Julie Park (designers)
Ellen Lupton (series editor), Linda Lee (project editor), Clare Jacobsen (acquisitions editor), Juanita Dugdale (consulting editor)