Other ways: complexity, dialogue, and otherness in wayfinding design

Date: 16 November 2023
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Online via Zoom
Past event

Thursday 16 November 2023 (1pm GMT / 2pm CET)

“New York is good for New York, Copenhagen is good for Copenhagen, it’s not good for us.” [Anthony Lopez, founder and chief creative director at Lopez Design, 27 April 2022.]

Judging from recent books about wayfinding design, it may seem that the discipline has remained largely the same since its emergence and subsequent growth in the 1970s and 80s. During that period, simplification, standardisation, and globalisation became fundamental concepts guiding the practice. Ideas such as conforming sign systems to modernist typography and adopting pictograms as the world’s lingua franca were promoted by a handful of design studios. As a result, alternative ways of working were marginalised in favour of a methodology that dominates to this day.

Nevertheless, there exists a vibrant community of unconventional designers challenging those orthodoxies. They ignore international standards for pictograms in favour of grassroots initiatives. They modify words and languages on road signs to represent local cultures more authentically. They confront methodologies that echo colonial mapmaking in order to allow for more diverse ways of representing how people navigate. Across the world, groups of people are taking it upon themselves to initiate change.

On Thursday 16 November ’23 wayfinding designer Jaap Knevel (Tokyo Monorail) shared insights from his Master’s thesis, ‘There must be other ways’ which concluded a two year research project at the Department of Visual Communication at Konstfack University in Stockholm, Sweden. Jaap discussed the lessons learned from engaging with different groups who challenge the norms of wayfinding design, shares the personal experiences that led him to question his creative preconceptions, and reflects on a series of experimental maps, signs, and pictograms he created as a reaction.

About our speaker

Jaap Knevel (he/his) is a wayfinding designer who runs Tokyo Monorail studio. He specialises in maps, pictograms, guides, and archives for international public spaces. Jaap holds a BA Design from the department of Media and Culture at Design Academy Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and received his Master’s in Fine Arts from the department of Visual Communication at Konstfack (Sweden). He started his design career at Mijksenaar. As an educator, Jaap has hosted over 250 workshops on wayfinding design for academic institutions including: the Willem de Kooning Academy; Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences; and Central Saint Martins UAL. A recent project, in collaboration with the Dutch Stichting Onbeperkt Genieten, is the development of the ‘prikkelpictogrammen’ (‘sensory pictograms’), a new series of accessibility symbols to help people navigate spaces with high sensory loads. Created with extensive feedback from the community, and released under a Creative Commons licence, the pictograms have been adopted by various cultural institutions such as The Mesdag Collection at the Van Gogh Museum.

Date / time / venue

Thursday 16 November 2023 (1pm GMT / 2pm CET).

Online via Zoom.