Friday, August 25, 2023

The Strategic Use of Color in Environmental Graphic Design

Our daily lives involve constant communication with the city. As we move through different spaces, we ask ourselves questions like "Where am I now?", "Where am I headed?", "What am I looking for?", "What is this building for?", and "How do I experience this space?" While spatial encounters may feel intuitive, environmental graphic design (EGD) provides the answers by serving as an important interface between us and the built environment. It involves the design of graphic elements that merge with architectural, landscape, urban, and interior designs to make spaces more informative, easier to navigate, and memorable. EDG comprises three major elements: text, shape, and color. Text and shapes typically encapsulate the graphic information, but color projects it, amplifies it, and helps communicate it within the packed scenes of the city. In spatial experiences, we perceive colors first, since our senses mostly register visual sensations. Therefore, the strategic use of color is critical for environmental graphics to provide a layered experience of identity imagery, sense of place, and emotional connection.

One of the earliest forms of incising graphical text on architecture is the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which layered stories on buildings as a historical document for the civilization. Today, environmental graphic design has grown to encompass more than just storytelling. It is present in signages, billboards, traffic signs, post boxes, public installations, and other experiential spaces of the city visually translating the operations of complex societies. It is able to communicate all these through color as a facade that has a direct impact on perception. Color does not only layer information in a pleasant and beautiful way but also creates a sense of coherence, relaxes people psychologically, reduces anxiety in large-scale structures, and creates order in urban environments.

In graphic design, certain colors are known to evoke specific psychological responses. Red evokes strong emotions such as passion, excitement, and urgency. Blue is often associated with calmness, trust, and reliability. Yellow represents happiness, energy, and optimism. Green mostly symbolizes nature and can denote health, harmony, and balance, while purple represents luxury, creativity, and spirituality. Strategically combining these colors and layering them with the existing aesthetic of buildings and the city allows information to not only be perceived but also elicit an emotional response. For instance, in hospital designs, green and yellow are commonly used for graphical elements on white interior surfaces to reduce patient anxiety and improve overall well-being.

8th  Edition of International Design Research Awards

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