There’s nothing like getting away, having time out and a bit of travel to be inspired. And even more so, after having the opportunity to attend the annual SEGD Wayfinding event in Miami last month.
Miami International Airport (MIA) was the setting for this year’s event, which included a full day of sessions with a focus on 'wayfinding' across a number of areas. From aviation to the workplace, education and healthcare. Nothing was missed.
The morning kick started with a key focus on aviation, in particular an insight to the ins and outs of Miami’s own airport remodel and development over the last 10 years, which is still ongoing to this day! But with 22 airlines, 44,000 million passengers a year, all aspects of the carpark to consider from roadway/highway, carpark, terminal to Ground Transportation it’s no wonder.
Joe Labozan (Labozan & Associates) and Richard Garcia (Miami Dade Aviation Department) took us through the journey and changes taken to improve the experience for the airport users that come from all around the world.
An expansive ribbon like digital piece welcomes international visitors to Miami creating a sense of place and community - lifting their spirits as they exit the security hall and transit to holiday mode through a visual experience. The mood and imagery is curated depending on the time of day with photography of beaches, water, boats and palm trees - celebrating Miami.
The new facilities of the North Terminal (1.2 miles long) includes a train that can take you from one end to the other as well as a multi-modal transportation centre, in which attendees were able to experience first hand as part of a walking tour on Day Two of the conference. It became quite apparent the large scale project that MIA is and the number of and types of signage, despite the fact they have an in-house signage fabrication facility. (Imagine have one of those!) One could say, that airports are very much like mini cities of their own.
From aviation we moved to wayfinding in education and workplace which gave a very different perspective of wayfinding that really got me thinking. Brittney Butler (VMDO) works primarily within the education sector and started her presentation by asking us if we remembered our first day at school, and admittedly mine are fuzzy on the edges and is definitely not like the first-day experiences of the schools she’s designed for, including Discovery Elementary & Buckingham Primary & Elementary (VA).
There was a distinct strong relationship between placemaking and wayfinding as she took us through these schools in how a user-focused, storyline based, placemaking approach to wayfinding goes beyond navigation and aligns with a larger vision of spacial interaction.
These projects are also unique due to the integrated process between the graphics and architecture / interior of the space that comes through from working closely within an architecture firm that gives them a cohesive theme and design. The kids of these school definitely have a different expectation of what wayfinding should do for you - high expectations are expected as they move to their workplace in the future.
Another highlight from the conference was definitely the time-travel journey Calori & Vanden-Eynden took us through. A look at the evolving technologies in signage from the past to now. From foam core, hand painting, to new forms of materials and methods such as 3D printing, digital and beacons.
The biggest takeaway for me from both the conference and travelling anew to cities, is the importance wayfinding is for people entering public spaces and the need to find their way around easily and intuitively which at times can be in highly stressful situations and locations. As well as the value and idea in creating a space that actively engages it’s users through storytelling, theming and placemaking with wayfinding whether it be at an airport, workplace, education or museum that craft and create your memories of place and time.