What Is Environmental Graphic Design?

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When people ask what I do, 99% of the time it’s a difficult conversation. It’s complicated because I don’t know how to talk about Environmental Graphic Design (EGD), because trust me, I could go on and on with theory. It’s tricky because most of the time, I’m giving people their first introduction in a lot of the cases using field that they never knew what existed.

However, ever since I realized that, I have loved introducing people to EGD as it is a type of design that I have been organically excited and passionate about. I want to shout it from the rooftops of our talented architects or from the well-balanced corridors selected by our interior team – ambient graphic design is an incredible visual medium to bring a space to life! It can be digital, tactile, and involve any combination of your senses. In its most general definition, EGD connects people to a place; although its official definition is a bit more defined and is worth taking an additional 5 seconds to read.

“Environmental graphic design encompasses many design disciplines, including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape and industrial design, all related to the visual aspects of orientation, identity communication and information, and shaping the idea of create experiences that connect people with the place ”.

– Society for Environmental Graphic Design

Just rereading that definition invigorates me. Environmental graphic design brings together so many design and related fields and has limitless potential to add the wow factor to a space, be it interior, exterior, or even connecting the two. I like to think of it as the sprinkles on a cupcake. Sure, the cake (architecture) is impressive on its own, but then the icing (interior design) is added and it’s infinitely better. Finally, add the pretty, colorful EGD sparks on top and everything looks and tastes amazing. A complete package.Or more literally speaking, you can actually add sparks.

Speaking more personally, working in an architecture studio has further defined M + A’s specific lane in EGD. In our architecture / engineering / construction (AEC) industry, this type of design is often more about branding a space, giving it purpose, silently personifying a brand, or communicating an impression of a business or organization. It also translates to every market we work in. Each market:

  • Health care wants spaces to comfort and heal
  • Educational centers want to inspire and lead
  • Business establishments want to recruit and retain
  • Retailers want to be eye-catching and embody their brand
  • Industrial customers want authenticity and heritage.
  • Residences want vitality and a timeless aesthetic.

All of these variable goals are possible by defining an intentional EGD strategy along with detailed execution of each graphic element. Each piece must work together to convey a feeling, message, or impression.

I’ll save our creative process to create branding environments for another blog, but for now, I want to challenge you; whether it’s the first time you’ve heard of environmental graphic design, or not. Take an extra minute and observe the spaces you occupy or wander for a week. Take note of any graphics and / or signage …

How are your emotions affected? Happier? Inspired? Calmer?

Do you prefer certain spaces to others? Why is that?

How is the space communicated about the entity to which it belongs?

Do signage and guidance make it easy to find your way or complicate it?

Are there graphics that recognize, tell you something you didn’t know, or are nice to see?

Okay, go. Happy watching.

Crawford Hoying Columbus HQ

Environmental graphic design

Office snapshots , Varonis offices – Morrisville (below)

Environmental graphic design

M + A before and after

Environmental graphic design

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