Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Exhibition at the V&A
The 20 Most Influential Exhibit Designs this Century

We wouldn't dare pretend that this is a definitive list, but it is a list of the projects that the top exhibit designers see as influential and important projects that have helped to push the area of exhibition design forward. The breadth of projects that were submitted was amazing.

Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of a computer-generated environment with which a person or people can simulate physical interaction via specialized electronic equipment such as a headset, omnidirectional treadmills or gloves. These items help to further the sensory illusion of reality.

What is Hierarchy?

By their very nature, signs and other visual communications in the built environment are designed to deliver essential information quickly, efficiently, and at the point where it is needed. Not all information on a given sign is equal in importance, and messages in some locations are more important than others. Therefore, designers must create a hierarchy that ensures the most important content is the most prominent.


Identity is often—and incorrectly—used interchangeably with the terms brand or  branding. Brand is the overall image that a company or entity makes across all touchpoints, from one-on-one communications to television, print, product, or social media. Identity is the visual translation of the brand into many forms, including the logo, of course, but also encompassing such elements as business cards and stationery, websites, signage, uniforms, fleet graphics, brochures, and package design.

What is Information Design?

Information design is the practice of presenting information in a way that makes it most accessible and easily understood by users. Information design is targeted to specific audiences in specific situations to meet defined objectives. In its most sophisticated forms, it helps users understand complex data by organizing and simplifying data and information in ways they can quickly grasp

Interface Design

Interface design facilitates interaction between a human being and a machine. It is a user-centered discipline that includes the design of websites, computers, mobile communication devices, and software applications focused on the user experience. The goal of interface design is to anticipate what users might need to do, or the actions they may choose to take, and provide the means for them to complete their tasks efficiently and with satisfaction and enjoyment.

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design is the design of environments, products, and services that can be used by all people—taking into account the full spectrum of human diversity while minimizing the need for adaptations or specialized design. Universal Design is the ultimate in user-centered design because it makes things safer, easier, and more convenient for everyone.


Typography is the foundation of environmental graphic design and many experiential graphic design projects. Along with color, scale, and form, typography is a basic building block of communications in the built environment.

Typography has been linked with architecture—and with creating a unique sense of place and environmental context—for as long as man has been building. Egyptian hieroglyphics, Roman inscriptions, and Mayan glyphs attest to the power of carving letterforms, pictographs, and symbols into structures to communicate their permanence and significance.

Systems Design?

Systems design is simply the design of systems versus the design of individual components. It implies a systematic and rigorous approach that can be scaled to projects of varying sizes and levels of complexity.

Systems design transcends individual design discipline and instead focuses on the process of defining the architecture, modules, components, interfaces, and staging of a project or product. It formalizes the steps and tasks required to complete a project.


Symbols (pictograms) are the universal vocabulary that can transcend words, languages, locations, and cultures. Symbol design is a critical component of graphic design because symbols can often communicate information more concisely than words.

Sustainability in EGD/XGD

Understanding the environmental impact of their work is essential for designers practicing today. Sustainability is no longer considered a nicety in environmental and experiential graphic design projects; it is a part of the DNA of any endeavor that adds to the built environment and therefore impacts the livability and health of our planet.


Specification is the process of providing detailed instructions for the manufacture and installation of signs or other visual communication elements. Designers typically provide fabricators with specification documents—accompanied by design drawings—that detail in written form the designer’s intentions for the sign type, dimensions, materials, colors, finishes, hardware, and installation methods.


Nomenclature is the devising or choosing of names for things, or the system for devising these terms in a particular field. In environmental graphic and experiential graphic design, it refers to the terminology used in wayfindingsystems to organize and simplify the names and numbers of destinations. 

What is Motion Design?

As digital technologies continue to create innovations in the world of experiential graphic design, motion design is becoming an increasingly important competency. Essentially, motion design is a discipline that applies graphic design principles to filmmaking and video production through use of animation and visual effects. Examples include films, videos, animated text, and web-based animations and apps.  

What are Materials, Color and Finishing?

Environmental graphic design and experiential graphic design are visual communications manifested in the physical, material world. Naturally, then, materials are the DNA of the environments and experiences that result. Materiality establishes the tone and nature of their visual vocabulary.

Materials are to environmental and experiential graphic designers as paints or pastels are to fine artists. Designers and fabricators practicing EGD and XGD have a world of options at their fingertips, and understanding them is a key competency of the discipline.

What is Mapping?

Mapping is a key issue in environmental and experiential graphic design, since the discipline’s goal of “connecting people to place” often requires getting people from Point A to Point B.

Despite the advent of GPS and other digital navigational tools, mapping will always be important. One of the primary goals of any wayfinding system is to provide orientation that helps users create their own mental maps of the terrain.

What is Legibility?

Legibility is a key factor in visual communications for the built environment. If the messages on signs, displays, screens, interpretive graphics, or other environmental/experiential graphics are not readable, they are not effective.

Experience Design

Experience Design is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, or environments focused on user engagement and the quality of the human experience. The goal of experience design is to achieve outcomes that enhance engagement, satisfaction, and quality of life. This emerging discipline also focuses on creating culturally relevant solutions—those that respond to human challenges and needs.

Donor Recognition Explained

Saying “thank you” is a beautiful thing, and expressing gratitude to patrons who make building projects possible is a crucial and sometimes complex task for institutions on the receiving end of their gifts.

Documentation in Experiential Graphic Design

In environmental graphic design, documentation refers to the design phase dedicated to communicating the design intent of the graphics program to sign fabricators for pricing and production.

Design Research and Experiential Graphic Design

Design research or user research is research undertaken specifically to support the development of products, services, and systems that meet human needs. The primary goal of design research is to generate value for the end user, that is, to meet a specific need.

Design Thinking and Experiential Graphic Design

The idea of design as a way of thinking has its origins in Herbert A. Simon’s 1969 book The Sciences of the Artificial. Simon noted that design can be thought of as the process of transforming existing conditions into preferred ones. Design thinking is a process aimed at creating the preferred condition through a structured process.

Content Management Systems

Content management refers to the processes and technologies used to support the collection, management, and publishing of information, particularly in the digital realm. Digital content can take the form of text, images, video, audio, and multimedia. These assets are managed via computer programs that allow publishing, editing, and modifying content from a central interface.

The Role of Content in Experiential Graphic Design

Content is the buzzword of the 21st century, the term that has been co-opted to represent the constant flow of information from social and traditional media. In branding and business communications, it is information that leads consumers to discover, engage with, and consume brands. Content can lead consumers to brand experiences or can be the experience itself. Content marketing is the technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable information to a specific audience in order to acquire customers.

What is Design Reseach, Design Strategy and Planning?

Strategy/Research/Planningin Experiential Graphic Design,particularly evidenced-based research, is becoming increasingly important in both the profession and in academia. Although there are some firms and graduate programs invested in high-level Strategy/Research/Planning in the field, it has historically been underserved.


Subscribe to definition