IDENTITY & SIGNAGE SYSTEMS • ACADEMIC • 2021
Transcend 2021 was a virtual end-term exhibition put up by a team of 12 students of my batch at IIAD. I was in charge of the identity & signage systems for this exhibition.
4 weeks long
Space Design @Indian Institute of Art & Design
Mr. Suman Bhandary
Ms. Mani Sharma
Risaal, Sparsh, Ishita, Lilly, Kartik, Aanchal, Shreya B., Kanngan, Janvi, Ivneet & Pratishtha.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit brakes on all public gatherings & events, our mentors challenged us to collaborate online and create a virtual exhibition to display student work as part of our 4 week Space Design course.
Upon interacting with our peers & subsequently analysing those conversations, we realised that all of us had achieved something quite remarkable even amidst a pandemic. While the world had come to a standstill, all of us had furthered our skill and education over the past year. This became the starting point for the theme of our exhibition.
Transcend literally means to go further, rise above or be more ... than a limit. This was coupled with a visual theme of darkness transitioning into light inside the exhibition; almost literally signifying that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
The identity was a simple abstraction after seeing a plan view of the space. I understood that the form and modular nature of the space were integral for the identity & signage systems. Elements were abstracted, typography was employed and varied colour choices were tried; all in collaboration with twelve people sitting in twelve different parts of the country.
Arriving at a form was quite tricky at different stages of the project but discussions with my mentor, Mr. Suman, pushed me towards developing a simple yet effective communication system and steer away from complicated metaphorical visual systems.
One of the initial form derivation sheets exploring abstraction of the physical space & its elements.
Furthermore, the identity had to be expanded in order to create a signage system for the exhibition. During this time, I was made aware of papers by Felix Kett on Traffic Sign Systems written as part of his MA course at the University of Reading. The papers made me aware of the relationship graphic design has with the space it is displayed in.
This understanding transformed into a self-imposed rule to take physical constraints of signage design and apply them in a virtual environment. Sample typefaces were first printed & tested for readability, legibility and form distinguishability to arrive at point sizes with a maximum viewing distance. These tests were done with my peers Pratishtha and Lilly.
A sample test sheet using the "Manrope" typeface.
Upon a broader understanding of the maximum legibility distance and other factors, I placed them on SketchUp in order to simulate distances between the viewer model & the signage when rendered in SimLab. This practice influence the height, scale and positioning of signages across the exhibition & helped maintain a level of consistency.
Finally, the project culminated in a real-time walkthrough of the exhibition. Transcend featured student work across four projects with each project having around 20-30 pieces of student work. The gallery below includes a few renders. Kudos to the team for pulling this off in the midst of a global pandemic.
Rendered in SimLab by my peers, Risaal & Sparsh.
Design Process & Reflection
The design process for this project was collated into a reflective log which you can view here.
The hardest part about this project was definitely to work remotely with a larger group of people than we'd worked with before. The ambiguity in trying something new when you cannot exactly visualise the final outcome is quite hard to navigate through. However, I realised that this only happens when everyone is working towards their own vision for the outcome. Sub-teams need to collaborate between each other and ensure that the larger picture is a common visual seen by all members of the team.
Another miscalculation from our end was that we did not take into account that none of us really had an extremely powerful computer. SimLab is a very resource-intensive software and it led to many hiccups along the way. Risaal had to put his laptop in the fridge for it to cool down and, once, we lost about a week's worth of work because the software crashed. However, kudos to my peer Risaal for functioning on three hours of sleep for more days than humanly possible and pulling off the entire 3D rendering. Twice, might I add.
As far as the identity & signage systems go, I was quite satisfied with the outcome and the process. I wish I'd explored the interface of the viewer's window a little more and included informational panels / icons. Replication of signages that work well in physical environments is not a good practice for the digital environment. Each environment presents various conditions / restraints that the design must be able to utilise in order to enhance its functionality.