“Waynefinding” at the 2018 SEGD Conference Experience Minneapolis

One of the best parts of any SEGD Conference is the opportunity to learn from leaders in the field—the people you admire. In addition to attending thought-provoking and inspirational sessions led by icons in the field, attendees have countless opportunities to rub elbows with their favorite designers over a pint at the President’s Reception, on conference tours and even while touring the NEXPO floor. Heck, you may even get the chance to bid against them at the SEGD Auction for Excellence.

At the 2018 SEGD Conference Experience Minneapolis,you’ll get to meet, hear from and hang out with industry great Wayne Hunt, FSEGD, of Hunt Design. Wayne is a nationally recognized leader in environmental graphic design and wayfinding signage design and has played an integral role in the evolution of SEGD.

In Minneapolis, Wayne will lead the keynote session, “Waynefinding—Cities, Monuments, Airports & Theme Parks,” focusing on his journey through design, business and teaching. Here, Wayne shares his insight as a designer, a speaker, a conference attendee and a long-time member of the SEGD community.


Wayne Hunt as a Designer

How did you get into the field?

As a young person, I always liked architecture. And while I ended up getting a graphic design degree, it wasn’t long before I saw the opportunity to marry graphic design and architecture. It was a complete no-brainer—a lightbulb going off. I thought, “What a great combination, applying graphic design to physical space.”

I also had the very good luck to go to work for John Follis—one of the great pioneers in this field in the ‘60s and ’70s and who I’m going to speak about at the conference.

Between my personal interest and the opportunity to work with John Follis, a die was cast.  

How have you seen the field evolve over the course of your career?

In the ‘70s, it was really about interior signs for buildings done by architects. “Architectural signing” was the term that was used, and it was really quite literal about signs—mainly within buildings and somewhat outside of buildings.

So if that’s the center point, all the way up to 2018—where we’re designing complete environments, still using graphic media, but often digital media or motion media—it’s sort of grown in concentric circles around the center point, like a drop of water in pool, and the layers keep getting added.

But the center point remains. A lot of us are still putting signs inside buildings.

What inspires you?

I don’t know if designers can get inspired in the same way that artists get inspired in the traditional sense of “inspiration”and—if they are—they’re probably acting too much like an artist and not enough like a problem solver.

So I think what inspires us as designers is identifying a problem that needs to be solved and finding a solution that fits that problem. You’re inspired by the constraints of the problem—and perhaps by the opportunities.

Wayne Hunt as a Speaker

Can you explain your 2018 SEGD Conference session in more detail?

“Waynefinding” is kind of a humorous aside and an office/family joke about “Where the hell is he?” and “Why are we always lost driving?” And the irony that “He’s supposed to be in the wayfinding business.”

But it’s important to note: This will not be a portfolio presentation. I’m going to try to tie in a lot of things. I’m going to talk about John Follis, the early days, trends that I’ve seen, observations about the practice and some business observations. And I’m going to talk a little about teaching, which is one of my favorite things.

What do you hope attendees will take away from your session?

That there’s a method to living this design life and that participating in the creation of spaces of all kinds is a noble, satisfying calling.

I often make the case that we are soldiers in the army fighting for the real world against the army fighting for the virtual world. We, especially me, like the physical world. I like being there. I like touching things. As a participant in the creation of the physical world, I want to remind people how important that is and what an opportunity it is to get to work in that world.

Even when we go to job interviews for projects, the virtual world keeps creeping in.  We need the physical world to function and be appealing, and being there is what it’s all about. In our field, we can help make it worth being there.

Wayne Hunt as an Attendee

Why do you attend the SEGD Conference year after year?

I have been to every conference in the last 30 years, except for last year’s. I think as an arc of one’s professional life, the younger you are, the more valuable it is—the more interesting, the more unique, the more things you haven’t seen before, the more people you haven’t met. If you’re a young designer and mid-career, there’s so much to learn and so much happening that you should be there.

On the flip side, as you get older, it becomes old home week and more about seeing old buddies and old friends. I’ve met a lot of my long-term, very best professional friends at this conference—and I still see them, year after year.

What’s one of your favorite conference memories?

I remember the 1991 conference at Art Center (the first non-Cranbrook event), which I was asked to produce and where we just sort of winged it. I had hired Venice Beach’s infamous Chainsaw Juggler to entertain at the outdoor barbecue but most of the crowd was still in the trade show. He said he wouldn’t work without a good crowd and had another gig in an hour. So I sent him into the expo hall and told him to fire up a chainsaw and lead the crowd out Pied Piper-style.

What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

We worked on the original Mall of America years ago, and I want to see what’s happening there. I’ve always liked the city of Minneapolis. I just thought it had a nice scale—one of the best semi-big cities in America.

And since I missed last year, I’m looking forward to seeing some of my old design pals.

Wayne Hunt as an SEGD Member

What do you love most about the SEGD community?

That’s one of those great questions that I think my answer to really hasn’t changed.

Everybody at SEGD (especially at the events) knows a secret—they all like parts of the same thing. And when you hang out with all of these people, you all kind of get it.


Hear more from Wayne at the 2018 SEGD Conference Experience Minneapolis. You won’t want to miss this! Register now.