Environmental graphic design

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Environmental graphic design (EGD for short), more recently (2013) being called "Experiential Graphic Design", is a design profession embracing many design disciplines including graphic design, architecture, industrial design and landscape architecture. Practitioners in this field are concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communicating identity and brands, information design, and shaping a sense of place.

Some examples of work produced by environmental (or experiential) graphic designers include the design and planning of sign programs, wayfinding consulting, exhibit and interpretive design, entertainment environments, retail design, information design including maps, as well as memorial and donor recognition programs.[1]

The word environmental refers to graphic design as part of creating the built environment, not to the natural environment or environmental engineering. Because of the confusion between the two (built environment vs. natural environment), the name of this discipline is being replaced with "Experiential Graphic Design".


SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Design, Formerly Society for Environmental Graphic Design), founded in 1973, has over 1400 members including professional designers, industry and international members. The mission of the association is to host a multidisciplinary community creating experiences that connect people to place. Members practice in areas such as Wayfinding, Placemaking, Exhibitions, Public Installations and Branded Environments.

The Association has 24 local Chapters around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, London and Scotland. They host an annual conference, 5 workshops, a webinar series, publish a magazine, eg, and run a website [2] delivering over a million pages of information for the profession and visited by over 200,000 visitors a year.

EGD practitioners generally achieve a Bachelor's degree education level in one of the allied design professions (graphic design, industrial design, architecture, interior design, etc.) and practice in a firm or organization where this work is performed. Currently no certification exists in this profession.

The field of Environmental Graphic Design developed from it's origins in signage and branding to become a highly specialized discipline requiring of practitioners that they are equally skilled in communication and information design as they are in the materials, processes and the knowledge required to manufacture physical objects (as opposed to printed materials and websites) that will exist in the built environment and have to meet the various building codes and standards requirements

Learn more about the profession from the many reference books on the topic such as David Gibson's The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places [3], Wayne Hunt's Environmental Graphics: Projects and Process [4] and Chris Calori's Signage and Wayfinding Design: A Complete Guide to Creating Environmental Graphic Design Systems [5], and Richard Poulin's Graphic Design And Architecture [6].

The next 20 years are going to be very exciting for Experiential Graphic Designers [7] as digital technology is rapidly being introduced to the physical environment as we begin to create the internet of places, a world in which the environment gains digital intelligence and begins to react more personally to our needs as we wander through places and spaces. As this scenario unfolds, practitioners will be working more and more with digital content (information from the web, images and moving images), personalization technologies such as Demographics recognition, tracking, facial recognition and most importantly interface and UI.

Creating the internet of places will be a major technological movement, which is already well underway with billions of sensors and screens already present in the physical environment.

The task of the Experiential Designer, as it is for all designers will be to ensure that the technological possibilities are well matched to the needs of the users of these spaces.



  1. ^ http://www.segd.org/about/what_egd.html, accessed July 23, 2006
  2. ^ SEGD.org [1]

External links[edit]

Graphic Design

Industrial Design