In their purest form, environmental graphics can be incorporated into the initial design where they can influence the architecture and interior layout of a space. However, many times environmental graphics enter in to the scope later in the process and must creatively adapt and make the most of the spaces already provided. In this case, it is imperative to remember that environmental graphics aren’t just for decoration. Decoration is fine. Filling white space with fresh and trendy graphics can add excitement to a space but most companies and campus architects want their budgeted dollars to do more than pay for fancy wall paper. When designs incorporate learning, emotion, storytelling, or community, an environmental graphics budget can suddenly add intellectual depth and purpose to a space that was once just an empty hallway.
Thoughtful graphics can shape space and add visual depth while sparking the interest of the passersby and serving as a conversation starter.
In this case, our empty hallways are located in a lower level outside freshman gen. ed. classrooms on a college campus. Here, hundreds of students just learning their way around their newfound home – some still deciding what they want to study – sit, congregate, and most of all, wait. On these walls we have the opportunity to spark conversations, build community, and educate.
Trendy and Fun
Fun, fresh spaces attract activity. Graphics infused with energy can make a pass through space a destination that can be easily identified. This type of graphic can also reinforce a brand identity and make once separate spaces feel like part of a larger whole. For an environmental graphics project, this is really just a starting point. As you’ll see, we’ve used the elements from simple abstract graphic studies as a base for options that do double duty as a teaching tool or a link to connect people to place.
A blank wall can be the perfect platform for learning. Famous quotes from literature, scholars, or humanitarians presented in a way that can be perceived as an interesting graphic to the passerby can suddenly become an engaging and educational puzzle to those with time to spare.
A graphic like this can be unraveled with each passing day spent waiting in the same spot and become a tool to get students talking, sharing ideas, and building new communities.
Community and Identity
Here’s another double duty: graphics can build campus/school pride while educating new students about buildings and landmarks around campus. Suddenly a student feels a sense of place and community when recognizing a building for the first time.
“What building is that?”
“Oh I know! I take intro to French revolutionary lit in that building!” “What’s that class about? I took French in high school…”
Images of fellow students or landmarks on campus can create a sense of community and start conversation about the campus, what classes other students are taking, or where their favorite hangout spots are.
The result in our once empty hallway is a space filled with iconic images of campus woven into an exciting graphic patchwork that now engages students waiting for class and brightens the way of others moving through the space. This successful project clearly shows that an environmental graphics program can provide numerous benefits while remaining relatively inexpensive and very flexible in the long term.