Read Time: 5 minutes
Setting the foundation
Not so long ago, on July 3, 1973, five visionary architectural sign designers, led by John Berry of Detroit architectural firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, came together to solve the problem of using graphics and information to move people through complex environments. They saw a critical need to create an agreed-upon and shared set of signage standards and symbols, and from there, SEGD (known as the Society of Environmental Graphics Designers) was formed.
What started with five grew into 50, then 1,000 in 1990 to upwards of 2,500 members working across brand experiences, exhibitions, interactive experiences, placemaking, and wayfinding. Out of an abundance of generosity, goodwill, and a collaborative spirit that has remained with SEGD from the beginning, the organization transformed into an international powerhouse with members representing the pinnacle of design for the built environment.
Today, our small and mighty organization’s global influence spans 47 chapters, engages 500,000 people annually, and has recognized 900 award-winning projects and 47 SEGD Fellows, including internationally recognized icons like Massimo Vignelli, Lance Wyman, and Paula Scher.
Our impact over 50 years
Spanning five decades, our members have transformed places, cities and entire cultures. From the first ADA Whitepaper and Universal Symbols in Healthcare to Massimo Vignelli's seminal NYC Subway Sign Standards, we have profoundly impacted how people move through complex spaces. From the way Ralph Applebaum Associates changed the paradigm for historical exhibits, transforming visitors into participants at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, to the way Gallagher & Associates created the first self-sustaining, for-profit museum model with the launch of the original Spy Museum, we have forever changed how people experience history and culture. From the first integrated digital building facade by Poulin + Morris for Morgan Stanley Times Square to Refik Anadol's poetic digital installations, we are the standard by which all others follow. Internationally recognizable works from Deborah Sussman's influential 1984 LA Olympics to Lance Wyman's Smithsonian Zoo iconography, Paula Scher's Public Theater identity to Selbert Perkins LAX sign; SEGD has been, and always will be, a community of vanguards.
We would not be where we are today without founding members who generously gave their time, talents, and resources. Members like Matthew's Paint, who sponsored the creation of SEGD's Education Foundation, Steve Neumann, who created our first website, Doug Morris, who redesigned and modernized the SEGD mark; and Pentagram Partner and SEGD Fellow Michael Gericke, who overhauled SEGD's identity and website in 2010, and is again contributing in a significant way to SEGD's new website and the 50th Anniversary identity system.
Michael Gericke recently shared why he continues to give back to SEGD: “It's enriched me in so many different ways. It's a community, it's giving, it's personal, it's educational, and it's incredibly inspirational.”
Forging the future—the next 50
With this spirit of gratitude, we ask you today to help us reimagine, redefine and ignite the next 50 years of SEGD.
The SEGD 50th Foundation will bring together Fellows and founding members whose contributions shaped the field of experience design, with the next generation of changemakers who continue to redefine what it means to create experiences that connect people to place.
Working together, we can profoundly influence the future of experience design by creating more pathways for students and emerging professionals to excel in the field. We can invest in research, tools and new methodologies that prove the return on experience throughout the virtual and built environment. We can champion design excellence by expanding resources for education and inspiration. And we can foster a creative culture that calls upon diverse lived experiences and multidisciplinary practices to solve our most critical global design challenges.
"This is a significant moment in the evolution of our organization. The 50th Foundation will help concretize the impact our experience design community has had on our cities, communities and culture. We will celebrate our member's unique expertise and design excellence that has and continues to enhance the human condition. All the while focussing on our collective future, ensuring our community earns recognition for their impact and contribution to the return on experience." - Cybelle Jones, SEGD CEO
Join the 50th Foundation
The future is defined by those who lead it. This is an opportunity for up to 50 individuals and organizations to join the 50th Foundation: A community of SEGD Fellows, leading experience design firms, education systems, and collaborative partners. We are asking for an initial investment of $5,000 to $20,000 to support the creation of the Foundation, along with a lower ongoing commitment to help sustain it.
As a Founder, you'll be consistently acknowledged for your support through high-level brand visibility, donor recognition, exclusive access to emerging talent, and complimentary ticket(s) to SEGD's 50th Anniversary Celebration, including invitations to an exclusive 50th Foundation Reception held in Washington, DC. Plus, 50th Founders receive complimentary membership(s) and ongoing recognition in the SEGD Awards Annual and the new SEGD.org website, launching in 2023.
To learn more about joining the 50th Foundation, contact Kristin Bennani at [email protected].
Meet the 50th Committee
To help SEGD support this critical effort, we have enlisted members of a 50th Foundation Committee chaired by SEGD Fellow and past President Patrick Gallagher of G&A.
"With great respect, I join SEGD as the chair of the 50th Foundation. It is the opportunity to reflect on the monumental work of SEGD members and, simultaneously, raise the bar for the future of this most critical design organization." - Patrick Gallagher.
We also thank SEGD Fellow Michael Gericke and his team at Pentagram for creating the SEGD 50th Foundation and 50th Anniversary identity system. Furthermore, their incredible generosity supports the strategic planning for a new SEGD.org website and branding for this next chapter in our organization's history.
Lastly, we thank Svetlana Legetic and her team at Exactly Agency for their work in creating the SEGD 50th Anniversary campaign. Exactly is a women-owned-and-operated, award-winning creative agency helping brands connect to today's diverse audiences.
To learn more about what's planned for the 50th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, DC, and to join the 50th Foundation, contact [email protected].