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Typography is all around us, wherever we walk, travel, live, and work. It's a vital component of our environment. Type helps us get from place to place. Navigational typography can be found in street and highway signage, transportation hubs, building signage, inside and outside of stores and institutions. Type helps us to find our way through the physical spaces where we visit and spend time in our daily lives. We call this kind of typography Wayfinding.
Here are three great examples of Wayfinding and environmental design from the fine folks at the International Design Consultancy Pentagram. In the Toronto Pearson International Airport, Wayfinding systems and signage help us navigate through a sprawling space. Typographic indicators, such as gate numbers and lettered concourse identification, lead visitors to their destination. In a typically time pressured and anxiety producing environment, good signage is reassuring and comforting.
Large International Airports such as this one require multilingual signage. The Arizona Cardinals Stadium is enormous, from the numbered parking areas to the ticketing gates, merchandise areas, escalators, seating levels, sections, and rows. The directions in this massive stadium are clearly marked. Inside the stadium, fans can learn more about their team in these typographic installations, such as the Historical Timeline and the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
All of the typography used in this stadium is strong and masculine, and every typographic element is part of a cohesive system. Typography plays a huge role in this theater complex on 42nd Street in New York City. This building is a blast of colorful type, from its exterior to its interior. Visitors literally walk through an environment of type from the building's elevators, stairwells, doorways, dressing rooms, even its room directory and donor wall.
The color and vitality reflect the energy of 42nd Street's bustling Theater District. On a street that is packed with tourists and competing signage, the new 42nd Street Studios establishes a bold and powerful presence. Environmental typography is an extension of its architectural context, and all of the same important principles apply here. The type must have high visibility against its background, be highly legible, have strong stroke widths and open counter spaces with a large X-height or all caps.
While you may not be designing complex Wayfinding signage in an airport or a stadium right now, these examples can provide a lesson in consistency and clarity of typographic navigation.
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