Unless we are exploring the deepest depths of the Amazon Jungle, we all rely on signage to not only guide us to the place we are heading for, but also greet and educate us. However, we don’t always need flashing neon lights or brassy bold painted street signs to enhance our experiences to enjoy a park or trail.
“A wayfinding sign should be apparent when you need it. But when you’re not looking for directional information, its esthetics should complement the environment so that it’ll feel as though it belongs there,” says Jeff Frank, lead designer at Corbin Design in Traverse City, Michigan.
Durability, accessibility and cost-effectiveness need to be considered in sign design as well as attractiveness and corporate identity. Interpretive signs, which can convey their message to anyone across the globe, have limited space to convey large messages. The U.S. National Parks Service signs have their own distinct look which, with more than 800,000 existing signs, communicate in a uniform and succinct way.
Other smaller parks have put their own identity into their signage. At the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park on the Ohio River in Cincinnati, design firm Kolar Design used the theme of a friendship bracelet to enhance their attraction. Bronze medallions inlaid with symbols of each continent are placed at the garden’s intersections. A pinwheel sculpture welcomes visitors at the park’s entrance with a braided motif in eight languages.
For more information on designing park and trail maps for all, click here.