What role does signage play in interior design?
We speak to Nigel Wood of Layrd Design partner Footprint Signs & Graphics to find out more about the role of signage in commercial interior design.
Whether you’re in an office, shop, gym or hotel, signs play an important role in the commercial interior. To find out more about how they can be used, we spoke to Nigel Wood of Footprint Signs & Graphics, a signwriting and graphic design company based in Cambridge.
Why is signage important in a commercial environment?
Signs play a key role because they act as an extension of the brand. They reflect the brand’s colour and message, helping to reinforce its image and perception. Space is also often at a premium in a commercial environment, which is where impactful signs come in.
There’s also room for a lot more creativity these days, which has made signage more important. We have more materials and finishes available, along with better technology for producing them. Clients therefore have a lot of options – they can be illuminated, they can have signs on the floor or graphics that cover entire walls.
What would you say are the top 3 functions of internal commercial signage?
Brand extension is the top function as it conveys your organisation’s message and reflects its colours and imagery. Wayfinding is the second function. Good wayfinding signage should give a clear direction for the customer to follow. Finally, interior signage gives a commercial enterprise room to be more creative and transform an area.
What is the role of colour in commercial signage?
Colour is massively important as it helps to create a specific atmosphere. It also shows whether a commercial space is staying on trend, allowing it to look ‘modern’ and relevant. For instance, many companies are opting for grey at the moment as it is a very trendy colour.
What role does signage play in seasonal events?
Temporary signage is very important here. Businesss may use them for promotions, to create a festive atmosphere or update the space. In Cambridge, we used signage to update the entire front display area of a shop so that it could be used for seasonal advertising.
How are floor signs used in commercial interiors?
Floor graphics can be very impactful and effective. They are also removable and short-term so they are ideal for commercial spaces. They really came into their own during the Covid-19 pandemic – they played a major role in highlighting social distancing, providing instructions on where to go and indicating one-way systems.
What is the most important thing to think about when it comes to designing signage for a business?
You need to think about what the sign is needed for and what overall impression you want it to make. For instance, we recently worked on a glass meeting room that the client wanted to update with a retro look, so we added a glass film to create a reeded glass effect.
You also need to think about font size and type. In particular, fonts that are too narrow will not display well.
How do signs affect a customer’s experience?
In a practical sense, signs help to guide customers around the area and offer important information so that they don’t have to hunt it down. You don’t necessarily have to be creative with this type of signage, just useful.
It is, however, possible to overwhelm with signage, which means customers may begin to block it out. I often don’t notice signage in large supermarkets because there is so much of it. I therefore think it would be a good idea to audit signs every year or so to check that they are still fulfilling their purpose, that they are in the right place and that they aren’t out of date. Fashions change quickly so you need to keep pace.
What should a good sign do?
It needs to be laid out well and have good font and colour. Don’t overcomplicate it! Continuity of signage is also important – do they complement your aesthetics, branding and other signs? And do practical signs offer continuity with each other? For example, do they all point in the same direction?
What is the most creative sign you’ve made?
The Riverlane project in Cambridge, which we worked on with Layrd Design. The client wanted to transform their office into a more inspiring space and interior signage played a key part in that.
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