What is Environmental Graphic Design?
When people ask what I do, 99% of the time it is a tricky conversation. It’s not tricky because I don’t know how to talk about Environmental Graphic Design (EGD), because trust me, I could go on and on. It is tricky because the majority of the time, I am providing people with their first introduction to a field they never knew existed. Talk about pressure!
Since realizing that, however, I have come to love introducing people to EGD, as it is a type of design I have become so enthusiastic and organically passionate about. I want to shout it from our talented architects’ rooftops or down the well-balanced corridors curated by our interiors team—environmental graphic design is an incredible visual means of bringing 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 it’s official definition is a bit more defined and worth taking an extra 5 seconds to read.
“Environmental Graphic Design embraces many design disciplines including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design, all concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communicating identity and information, and shaping the idea of creating experiences that connect people to place.”
Just re-reading that definition invigorates me. Environmental Graphic Design brings together so many related design-y fields and has limitless potential for adding 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 awesome on its own but then you add the icing (interior design) and it is infinitely better. Finally, you add the pretty, colorful EGD sprinkles on top and the whole thing both looks and tastes amazing. A complete package. Or more literally speaking, you can actually add sprinkles.
Speaking more personally, working at an architectural firm has further defined M+A’s specific lane in EGD. In our Architectural/Engineering/Construction (AEC) Industry, this type of design is often more about the branding of a space—giving it purpose, silently embodying a brand or communicating an impression of a company or organization. It also translates to every market we work in. Every market:
- Healthcare clients wants spaces to comfort and heal
- Educational clients want to inspire and lead
- Commercial clients want to recruit and retain
- Retail clients want to be eye catching and embody their brand
- Industrial clients want authenticity and heritage
- Residential clients want vibrancy and a timeless aesthetic
All of these varying goals are possible through defining an intentional EGD strategy coupled with detailed execution of each graphic element. Every piece should cohesively work together to convey a feeling, message or impression.
I’ll save our creative process for creating branded environments for another blog, but for now, I want to challenge you; be it your first time hearing about Environmental Graphic Design, or not. Take an extra minute and look at the spaces you occupy or meander through for a week. Take note of any graphics and/or signage...
How are your emotions affected? Happier? Inspired? Calmer?
Do you prefer some certain spaces to others? Why is that?
How does the space communicate about the entity to which it belongs?
Does the signage and wayfinding make it easy to find your way or complicate it?
Are there graphics that give recognition, tell you something you didn’t know or are just pleasant to look at?
Okay GO. Happy observing.
Crawford Hoying Columbus HQ
Office Snapshots, Varonis Offices - Morrisville (below)
M+A Before's and Afters
Graphic Design Lead
Chelsea has a B.S. in landscape architecture from The Ohio State University. When she's not designing graphics for M+A projects, she is probably walking her dog or finding the best places to eat.