Tuesday, 4 November 2014

OUGD404 - Design Principles - Logo, Symbols and Icons - Emergency Exit Minibrief

Today we did a small studio brief which investigated logo and icon design, in particular fire emergency exit symbols and signs. We basically had to generate ideas and work towards creating a symbol or image to communicate a specific message. The message being 'this way leads to an emergency exit should you find yourself in a situation where the building is on fire'.  

Post-1982 Japanese exit sign ("running man") designed by Yukio Ota in 1979. This symbol is globally recognised for its simplicity, it's extremely clever in the sense that it is two dimensional yet depth and perspective are subtly suggested through the shapes used. 
Green pictogram with a running man

Most people probably don't appreciate the fact that one of the most important symbols in the world is that of a ‘Fire Exit’. Around the world there are many different examples of fire exit design. They incorporate many warning elements, potentially another vital element in visual communication. These warning elements include colour, shape, size, chosen font, incorporation of technology such as illumination, word choice and so on. When designing such an important sign, it is vital to consider all of these points. These considerations were obviously difficult to address in such a short space of time time. 
One interesting thing we considered was the fact that we are all aware of the existing symbols, but are we happy with them? Is it time to revisit them? The considerations mentioned above are all things that are legally required and can in some areas and scenarios have a detrimental effect on the building in which the are positioned. Context is a massive consideration. We needed to think about where the sign will appear, how it will work within a space, how it will complement other features within a room.
Initial idea generation. We liked the idea of promoting the exit route as a safety exit. We thought this would be reassuring in the event of an emergency. We then translated the designs into vector graphics in Illustrator and as a group came up with the final design. The design incorporates an open door, and similarly to Yukio Ota's design it subtly hints at depth whilst remaining completely flat and two dimensional.

We thought about colour for a while. We decided that colours such as red, yellow or orange could potentially confuse a person in an event of a fire. Fire after all is made of those colours, would the sign disappear out of sight within a fire/thick smoke? Probably yes. We also thought that red could be confusing at is connotes danger and warning, if you are in a stressful situation surely you don't want to head towards more danger? Red for us was a definite no. We looked at more calming colours, such as various shades of blue, turquoise and ended up going for a teal. Pantone named the colour Atlantis which I thought was appropriately witty, relating to water.

I am pleased with the final design. The task was exciting and challenging. However, John pointed out a flaw in the design instantly. He read 'sex' at first glance. I personally didn't but once he had pointed that out I couldn't help but notice it. 'Sexit' is not the message we were trying to communicate, but not everyone will notice that, hopefully.

I think our final design is simplistic and successful and I am really pleased with the colour choice. It would have been been nice perhaps to incorporate some sort of arrow, to give people an indication of which way to go in the event of a fire. Some sort of direction is needed to make it completely functional.

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