Finding the Hidden Logic of a Place

Metropolis Magazine interviews David Gibson about his new book, <em>The Way­finding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places.</em>
May 19, 2009, 2pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Do you have way-finding pet peeves? Are there things people get consistently wrong?
The main one is beautiful but useless signs. I've been called in to re-sign existing places a number of times, and often I'll look at the signs and think, Wow, that's a great layout, that's really satisfying to look at, but it doesn't do anything for my understanding of the place. My other pet peeve is airport gates. There is a rational way of numbering them, with odd numbers on one side and even on the other, all proceeding down a main corridor. Sometimes, though, they'll number them down one side and back the other, so you'll have Gate 3 directly opposite Gate 17 for no discernible reason.

What's harder, designing signs for a new building or an existing one?
It's harder to do it for an existing building because you're untangling an already existing mess with a myriad of conflicting histories, conditions, and pathways. Though you can see what's there and don't have to imagine the space, it takes a lot of conviction to create a brand-new system for people in a place that may or may not be changing otherwise."

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Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 in Metropolis Magazine
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