Design & Education

Space / Wayfinding


PEM / S19

Narrative Space / Wayfinding

Select an existing medium- to large-size functional space, such as an airport, train station, or museum. Thoroughly research and analyze the space, reimagine the brand and experience, and create a wayfinding system.

5 weeks / Group project (2-3 people)



A wayfinding system is much more than just simply creating informative signage. It can have a direct impact on how people think or feel in that space (and also about the space).

Fundamentally, the right wayfinding shows people where they need to go and helps them make decisions in space. In addition to its basic functional focus, wayfinding signage can also introduce a brand’s (or space’s) unique tone of voice, contribute to storytelling and arouse the emotions of the visitors. It’s a chance to reinforce the value of that space and give people a brief introduction to the space.

The right selection of materials, technology, colors, forms, and system all come together to add yet another critical element to the story of the space.



Step 1. Forming Project Teams

Debrief and reframe the assignment. Through class discussion, student will form four to five project groups based on the space. (This time, each team will work on the same space.)


Step 2. Research / Site Investigation

Study the site in detail to identify the populations that inhabit or visit the place, pathways that they follow, any obstacles to good wayfinding, and opportunities that might promote it. The site investigation involves observation and documentation, walking the streets and corridors, and looking at landmarks, pathways, and gathering points. While exploring a space, you should observe the space’s physical characteristics and the human dynamics that take place there. It’s strongly encouraged to have a floorplan of the space.


Step 3. Analysis / Site Analysis

Observe how people experience the space. What functionalities and services does the space offer? Is the experience linear or non-linear Create a circulation diagram. Analyze the circulation of particular user groups, Describe how people interact with space at each step, review the parallels, overlaps, and contradictions between the different user pathways, which will help you create the wayfinding strategy.

Possible deliverable options : User circulation diagram, site analysis, persona, design goals, etc.


Step 4. Brand Analysis and Rebrand

Thoroughly research and analyze the brand and reimagine its brand essence. Create typographic brand identity, visual identity and design system. Generate as many rough visual concepts as possible.

Possible deliverable options : Brand Essence (Mission, Vision, Positioning, Values, Story, and Target Audience), Typographic Brand Identity, Visual Identity, Design System.


Step 5. Synthesize / Strategy Design

Create strategic wayfinding design that informs visitors about the space and tell a story about the brand. The strategy may be different depending on the type of space that the students chose. For example, a transportation hub should provide a linear and clear wayfinding system, while a exhibition may offer more non-liner wayfinding which encourage more dialogue between the narrator and the audience. In another word, consider the wayfinding system as a communicator between the space and the audience. Generate as much idea sketches as you can. Always keep in mind of the essence of the space.

Possible deliverable options : Wayfinding strategy concepts that reflect the space’s identity/essence (graphics, forms, materials, mounting, installation, typography, graphic elements, colors, etc), Draft sign location plans for more than three types of signs, Schematic design sketches, and etc.


Step 6. Programming / Sign programming (Optional)

Using your site analysis map (user circulation map), create a sign location plan, that shows the planned location of each sign-types


Step 7. Schematic Design/Design Principles for the space

With the sign types plan, explore design alternatives for the forms, materials, palette, color, typography, and content. All options should conform to the wayfinding strategy. You may investigate different approaches to content and visual language.


Project Group


  • Emily

  • Amanda

  • Pharrapatra

  • Ashley

  • Ashna

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

  • Isabel

  • Julia

  • Nicholas

  • Noah

Salvation Army

  • Maria

  • Michelle

  • Jamie

  • Derrick


Final Deliverables:

  • Brand Essence

  • Typographic Brand Identity

  • Visual Identity

  • Site Circulation Map

  • Sign Type Plan

  • Digital Mock-Up


  • Icons & Map (Wk 8)

  • Map (Wk 8)

  • Digital Signage (Wk 9)

  • Site Making


WK 6 (2/28): Debrief & Team Making

Discuss the project brief in the class, and form project teams.

Week 7 (3/6): Site and Brand Analysis.

Each students present the site analysis. Then, each groups compile all the research into a unified presentation.

Spring Break

Week 8 (3/21): New Brand Essence and Design System

Each students present the new brand essence, brand identity and design system.

Week 9 (3/28): Rebrand & Design System

Week 10 (4/4): Final Presentation


  • Sustainable Material