Environmental graphic design and its history with architecture promote transversal know-how | News

Architecture as a practice lends itself to fruitful collaborations with adjacent disciplines such as graphic design. When married into a project, the results often exude an exciting mix of color, style, scale and unique aesthetic. There are many reference examples if we go back to the history of architecture with graphic design and its sub-disciplines such as wayfinding, signage design and environmental graphic design.

Take the iconic works of graphic designer Deborah Sussman and her collaborations with many architects like Frank Gehry or Barabara Stauffer Solomon and her work at the Sea Ranch in the 1960s. Although these are just two of my favorite examples of the relationship between architecture and graphic design, we can see this marriage of disciplines used by architectural firms around the world. So why broach such a subject which has become commonplace in the design industries?

Design consultants like Pentagram and other independently run design firms like Isometric Studio effortlessly combine architecture, graphic design, and environmental graphics in their work. These examples of interdisciplinary expertise highlight the additional opportunities available to architecture students, architects and design professionals as they create a career path for themselves.

J. Magnin Department Stores (circa late 1960s), designed by Deborah Sussman in collaboration with Frank Gehry and other architects. Image courtesy of WUHO.

Previously reported on Archinect: New Documentary Short Shows Barbara Stauffacher Solomon’s Groundbreaking Design Work

In 2022, multidisciplinary approaches to work are found almost everywhere. For example, it has been widely discussed on Archinect that having a background in architecture can provide various career paths and trajectories for those who seek it. The art of graphic and environmental design is no exception. Searching the Archinect forum, I was intrigued by two comments in a previous thread aptly named: Correlation between Architecture and Graphic Design. What started as a simple forum question has turned into a mix of shared information and sarcastically helpful answers. Throughout this discussion, Archinector money noise shared, “Graphic design and architecture are intertwined at various points in the architectural design process. Everything we create is graphic and should communicate some kind of recipe for a building. Pure layout and aesthetics don’t are not as related as the informational aspect of it all.”

Supergraphics Sea Ranch Tennis Club by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. Photo © Jim Alinder/Princeton Architectural Press

Many people confuse this area with simple signage, but it is more than that, it creates branding and identity for a building/business. – mimo, Archinect user

Later in the thread, Archinectormimoshared, “Environmental graphic design is a field that few know about, but it is growing and combining elements of architecture and graphic design into one. Successful companies in this field include Gensler, Perkins + Will, Pentagram, Sussman/Preja, InfiniteScale Design to name a few. I’m an environmental graphic designer with a degree in architecture. A lot of people confuse this field with signage, but it’s more than that, it creates the branding and identity of a building/business. And most importantly, it helps people navigate, a building alone will never effectively navigate its users/visitors.”

Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College. Design led by Abbott Miller with design team: Kim Walker Kirsty Gundry Wenjie Lu. Image courtesy of Pentagram.

If we reflect on these two comments made from 2008 to the present day, it is clear to underline the growth of this design specialty and its importance. Of course, not all architects are brilliant graphic designers, but as our editorial team has often discussed in the past, having a background in architecture creates an educational foundation that can be applied to other design disciplines and business opportunities. use. On that note, Pentagram recently posted a job posting for a signage and wayfinding project manager.

Pentagram shares that they are looking for a highly qualified designer with 2-4 years of experience in environmental graphic design, interior design and architecture. The ideal candidate will work with and “support Pentagram Partner Paula Scher and her team in executing projects and managing communication between project designers, production suppliers, contractors, fabricators and the customer”.

Visual identity for Maker Mile – Astrid Stavro and her Pentagram team. Image courtesy of Pentagram.

While the thread I mentioned earlier could benefit from a revival in the forum, it serves as a reminder that many architectural works vary. While working in a traditional architectural firm is the goal for some, others seek the non-traditional route to apply their skills.

*As part of the Archinect Jobs Highlights series, we feature job opportunities for people with a background in architecture who are exploring other ways to apply their skills beyond a practice of traditional architecture.

To read inspiring stories of architects who have succeeded in other industries, check out Archinect’s Working Out of the Box series.

Stay up to date with our latest coverage of exciting opportunities on the Archinect Job Board after the tag Interesting jobs.

Clifton L. Boyd