Putting the fun back in functional

Date: 18 January 2024
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Past event

Thursday, 18 January 2024 (1pm GMT)

In this talk, Urgent.Agency’s Michaela Pihl Olsen and Rose Marie Zeynoun spotlight two aspects that often shape our understanding of wayfinding and inclusive design. Firstly, they delve into the perception gap surrounding wayfinding: how it is commonly perceived versus what it actually entails. Secondly, they shine a light on a common misconception among designers, exploring how inclusive design is sometimes as a burden rather than a creative opportunity.

Rethinking wayfinding

When the words ‘Wayfinding’ or ‘Signage Design’ are mentioned, the immediate mental imagery often includes signs beside roads, in airports, or at the local grocery store. Yet, from Michaela and Rose Marie’s perspective and understanding, wayfinding is beyond conventional signs, beyond the visible. The Urgent.Agency team aims to challenge these preconceived notions, and do so by pushing creative boundaries to transform these perceptions. Their process involves deciphering the subtle language of a space, understanding its unique characteristics and users, and creating a seamless, safe and enjoyable experience for visitors, passers-by, residents, etc.

‘Step into my world’

Urgent.Agency’s approach extends beyond the physical space itself. The team digs into the diverse experiences of individuals with varying motor, visual, and cognitive abilities, to gain invaluable glimpses into their worlds.
This shift in perspective is crucial in recognising the multitude of needs and wants within their community. Inclusive design is often seen as a compromise between aesthetics and inclusivity. Michaela and Rose Marie and their studio colleagues believe it involves finding innovative ways to integrate both aspects successfully.

About our speakers

Michaela Pihl Olsen is Head of Wayfinding at Urgent.Agency, a Copenhagen-based strategic design agency, where she has contributed her skills and passion for the past eight years. Michaela is a leader in the field of spatial navigation and experiential design, having earned her Master’s in Type and Wayfinding from the Royal Danish Academy. Throughout her time at Urgent.Agency, Michaela has played a key role in both large and small projects within the built environment. Her approach focuses on creating spaces that blend meaning with seamless navigation, leaving a positive impact on various domains. Michaela is often invited as a speaker, where she shares insights on wayfinding and universal design. Additionally, she is committed to education. As a guest teacher at the Royal Academy, Michaela ​shares her knowledge in wayfinding and place making, contributing to the
development of aspiring designers and emphasising the importance of this discipline. Recognising the need for connection within the industry, Michaela is behind the ‘Wayfinding Collective’`, a Copenhagen-based network for professionals passionate about spatial navigation.

Rose Marie Zeynoun is a Senior Wayfinding and Graphic Designer at Urgent.Agency. Now based in Copenhagen, she is a Lebanese designer with a Master’s degree in Graphic Communication Design from The Royal Danish Academy. With a career spanning 13 years, Rose Marie’s professional journey began at an international architectural firm based in Beirut, contributing to significant projects across the Middle East and North Africa. Rose Marie’s passion for wayfinding and the exploration of human behaviour in a space inspired her to pursue studies in social psychology at Roskilde University, Denmark. She is an active member of the NGO ‘Building Diversity’ which focusses on raising awareness about the significance of inclusivity and diversity within built spaces. In addition to her wayfinding and graphic design perspective, Rose Marie’s cultural background has instilled in her a lifelong fascination with how visuals vary from one culture to another. This gives her a keen eye for understanding how aesthetic nuances contribute to a broader cultural context, important in her career as a wayfinder and designer.

Recording