Friday, 8 January 2010

Airport Signage (OUGD102)

In reference to the current 'Collection 100' project (for which my topic is 'airports'), I feel that a good point to start on is the graphic design of airport signage.

The boom in developing airport signage was big after Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert were commissioned to revamp the signage of London Gatwick International Airport. It was highly influential in the development of airport signage. Here is an example:

Gatwick Airport Signage

This image can be found at: http://www.batphonepr.com/aviation/images/LGW50day099.jpg

The very recognisable black on yellow signage can be seen in a lot of major airports around the world. However, the exact original design is not always used, but the colour scheme remains consistent. Also, most airport signs nowadays tend to be sans serif rather than the signage with seriffed letters above. A good example of how how the signage has changed - yet still notable influenced by Kinneir and Calvert - is at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport:

Amsterdam Schiphol Signage

This image can be found at: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/91/260911720_2244c55181.jpg

Amsterdam Schiphol Signage

This image can be found at: http://www.sxc.hu/pic/m/b/bo/borissey/299476_airport_sign.jpg

Amsterdam Schiphol has recently won awards for its signage which has recently been updated. It was also noted how much less people were using the information desks at the airport after the new signage was fitted. It certainly must be doing its job well!

Not every airport adheres to the black on yellow scheme of signage. Instead, some airports work with the concept of creating signage with a high degree of contrast between the text and the ground it is on which still generally helps to induce clarity. Also, although studies have shown (which were done for Heathrow signage) that serif typefaces are just as effective as sans serif on signage, most airports use sans serif typefaces. In the study that was conducted it was said that sans serif typefaces were favoured due to peoples genre expectations with sans serif typefaces.

East Midlands Airport is a good example of how the high colour contrast and sans serif typeface concept is kept to:

East Midlands Airport Signage

East Midlands Airport Signage

East Midlands Airport Signage

These images are my own. I photographed them myself at East Midlands Airport.

East Midlands Airport were still successful in my opinion working along the high contrast sans serif concept I mentioned earlier. The signs are very clear, very legible and informative. The designers choice of Helvetica typeface was a safe choice as it does the job well.

So there we have it, Graphic Design is definitely in airports! A lot of thought and time has gone into making peoples experience of passing through an airport as simple and hassle-free as possible.

Cheers.

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