Talks and events

The Society offers a regular programme of talks designed to inspire, improve practice and encourage innovation. We cover a wide range of topics from design and associated disciplines to academic research, technology, processes and standards.

Our talks are usually monthly, with most still online via Zoom (recordings are posted in the talks archive). However, we are now offering quarterly in-person events in central London too.

Upcoming talks

There are no events.

Past talks

Recordings of the past talks are available for members.

Yellow-coloured arrow facing right pointin to 'Functional Design' positioned to the right of the image

Danish graphic designer Janik Frithioff shares fascinating examples of functional design solutions, and explores the key principles for designing wayfinding, traffic information, typography and visual communications for public places.

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Planes, trains and map design

Date: 24 February 2022
Image showing a fan with the world map printed upon it side by side with a yesteryear rail travel poster

Christian Nolle and Mark Ovenden explore influences on airline and railway maps, looking at changing design considerations and the evolution of travel information design.

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Tour of the Abram Games Archive

Date: 10 February 2022
Draft of one of Abram Games' designs for 'Britannia' for the Festival of Britain event in mid-20th century

A unique opportunity to find out more about the life and design legacy of Abram Games through a visit to his archive in West Hampstead, London. The afternoon (2 pm) tour given by Naomi Games, daughter of the acclaimed 20th Century graphic designer.

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A variety of Danish road signs (aimed at cyclists) laid out on a road surface

Can outdoor wayfinding information increase activity and improve user satisfaction?

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Map showing walking route in Norwich juxtaposed with related statistical information

Professor Michael Hornberger explains current research on spatial orientation and navigation deficits in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and how wayfinding problems impact people’s outdoor activities, such as driving and walking safely.

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Man's hairy arm pointing outwards across a rapeseed field on a sunny summer's day

In an era when we increasingly rely on technology to navigate – and get lost when it fails – Tristan Gooley’s fascinating knowledge of navigation using natural cues and signs gives us ideas to incorporate into wayfinding system design and help us find our way on our walks.

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Student study space looking out across an urban river backdrop

Our October event takes two different perspectives on how people respond to space, interact with it and move through it, and how wayfinding success or failure can impact our wellbeing.

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Men looking at an internal wall map of the Design Museum of Denmark

Denmark-based Urgent.Agency explain their approach to wayfinding and place activation at the Designmuseum Copenhagen and share ideas on how typography has evolved in response to wayfinding needs.

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Image showing a view of Melbourne from the air (on a sunny day) juxtaposed with an excerpt of an Australian city location map

Mark Janetzki shares wayfinding work from the Diadem design studio in Melbourne. Dr Andrew Haig gives an overview of his doctoral research into how we build spatial knowledge, why using paper maps is good for us, and what his research revealed about using landmarks with mobile maps to improve pedestrian navigation.

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Design for Britannia symbol for Festival of Britain juxtaposed with image of its designer Abram Games

On the 70th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, Naomi Games gives an illustrated talk about her father Abram Games’s emblem design for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

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Crafting letters today

Date: 20 May 2021
Image showing examples of Pip's letter carving work and Eric's printing press collection

Pip Hall and Erik Spiekermann both work with letters that are physical objects in the real world. Pip works cutting letters in stone, and Erik is currently involved in letterpress printing. Both will be telling us about their work.

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Different colour pipes leading to different level numbered wayfinding signs

The focus of this event is on colour and its role in the process of navigation, whilst acknowledging that it is just one element of wayfinding systems; others being typography, sign layout, and visual and textual information.

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Middle-aged couple avidly reading information board about a tourist destination in New York

This talk presents insights from a two-year project ‘Repositioning Graphic Heritage’ looking specifically at urban graphic heritage in its setting. It explores the relationship between graphic heritage and heritage interpretation, between presentation and representation, through case studies of a multitude of ‘signs’ in their urban settings.

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Small excerpt of foldable Wonderground Map of London by MacDonald Gill

Caroline Walker, great-niece of MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill and author of MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life  (Unicorn Publishing, 2020) celebrates the artistic legacy of this versatile and multi-talented artist, architect, draughtsman, letterer, mural-painter, and standout mapmaker.

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Different types of signage for front cover of David Gibson's 2009-pubished 'The Wayfinding Handbook'

Acclaimed wayfinding designer and theorist, David Gibson reflects on what he has learned since publishing ‘The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places’ (Princeton University Press) in 2009, and why it’s now time for a new edition.

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Woman using gold coloured earpiece and chunky necklace to navigate through space (she has her eyes closed as if to suggest she is sight-impaired).

The design of our environment has the power to enable or disable all of us. How intuitively we’re able to navigate that environment impacts all aspects of our lives: how we live, work, and play. For people who are vision impaired, there is yet to be a fully integrated, intuitive solution that enables independent navigation and wayfinding. Many technological innovations entering this space focus heavily on technology, rather than considering the user experience and neuropsychology of how visual information can be perceived through other senses.

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Diagram showing wayfinding technology design and physical factors impacting wayfinding

oin us to hear specialists from Buro Happold’s Inclusive Design, People Movement and Smart Buildings teams — Jean Hewitt, Elle Beange, and Becky Hayward — who will be exploring in turn: the diversity of humans in the way places are navigated; and the use of analytics to solve complex wayfinding challenges.

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A tree growing in a fragile looking half glass globe against a green / yellow natural background

This event explores how ‘green thinking’ can be applied to wayfinding design and manufacturing processes and the lifecycle of products. The evening’s speakers include Erik Sørensen Ruiz from Modulex providing insights into the company’s approach. We will also hear from Adele Orcajada from MaterialDriven about ‘future proofing’ and the types of materials and innovation that can provide the toolkit for better and more environmentally sustainable architecture, urban environments, wayfinding, and smarter products. Nick Hughes from UCL will introduce two important framing concepts, ‘the circular economy’ and resource management hierarchy, for understanding resource efficiency. 

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People using mobile phones to read information in a futuristic looking space

Join us for a discussion with SEGD’s CEO, Cybelle Jones, who will discuss ideas on embracing the future rather than fearing it as our global call-to-action, and employing experiential communication design thinking as a means to solving small and large-scale problems. 

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Cross sections of brain diagram (with different parts highlighted) juxtaposed against an urban environment background

Join us at the Sign Design Society for a talk by Professor Kate Jeffery (University College London) exploring how cognitive mapping and other spatial processes underpin wayfinding in both humans and animals.

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Image of Colette Jeffrey and Sander Baumann on an advert for the June '20 first SDS via Zoom event

Sander Baumann, an Amsterdam-based designer will share his experiences of wayfinding and sign design during lockdown, how his business changed overnight and how he found new opportunities to keep moving on.

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Thinking differently

Date: 11 February 2020
Image demonstrating What3Words usage in Piccadilly Circus (London), and a view of an escalator in a modern building

The mission for February’s talk is to provoke the status quo and encourage new thinking to solve everyday navigation and wayfinding challenges.

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External view of the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium including wayfinding signage by Populous Activate

Simon Borg examines how the practice’s cross-disciplinary design approach informed the development of authentic and long-lasting experiential spaces at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium London.

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Examples of 2019 award winning projects signage by f.r.a. and Populous Activate

Two of the three finalists in the British Sign Awards 2019 wayfinding category will join us to talk through the brief, challenges and inspiration behind their winning commissions.

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Exanokes if Jan Tschichold's typography / graphic design work.

Professor Paul Stirton explores the influence and work of ‘Die Neue Typographie’ movement through the lens of typographer Jan Tschichold’s life and work.

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