NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

Member of International Council of Design ico-D

English | فارسی

Neshan 27

Editorial column

Design, Graphics and Environment

Majid Abbasi

“I never design a building before I’ve seen the site and met the people who will be using it".
- Frank Lloyd Wright

Human and his relation with the designed environment and space (both individually and socially) are the most decisive elements in designing the surrounding environment. Designers and architects are inexorably involved with human behavioral effects in the context where people work and live. This is to say that design has a direct relation with human and his activities. Therefore, it is destined to be functional. Through design, some questions are answered and some problems are resolved. These behavioral effects are the decisive impetus in the process of design and make the designer research, realize and understand.

About ten years ago, when we decided to publish Neshan magazine, we naturally aimed to deal with such varied and familiar topics as type and typography, poster and book design, lithography and illustration, magazines and newspapers, logos and visual identity, theater and cinema, music, interaction and so on. Meanwhile, in addition to the more familiar above topics for graphic designers, we have also paid attention to some less familiar topics which include more general and at the same time ultra-disciplinary matters such as identity, Tehran Poster Biennial, Olympics, design fresh, handmade, etc. In the meantime, we decided to familiarize our audience with some topics which are pertinent to visual communication and unknown or less known to them, topics such as information design, sustainability design, design process, etc. We even published an issue specific to “information design” which was new for both the editorial board and the audience in Iran. In the present issue, we are going to deal with “environmental graphic design”, a subject which possesses a special status in the world now; technological advances have helped to its transmogrification and turned it into an agile and attractive arena where both graphic designers and architect can have a say. Therefore, we have chosen the title of environmental “graphic design” instead of environmental “design” for this issue since the former will enable us to define the subject matters related to visual communication and to let us keep close to the environment of our profession.

How would our world appear without graphic design? How would the interior landscape spaces correlate with the exterior spaces? What would be the effect of the surrounding environment on designing interior spaces? How could we find our itinerary toward our destination and realize our whereabouts? How would we realize we have reached our intended place? How could we use the present signs to navigate? What would we do if we did not know the language? How would we find our way through a chain store? How would we find the way toward our intended places of attraction?

“Environmental graphic design”, unlike our common knowledge, not only concerns designing and organizing urban signage system, but also the kind of graphic design which is employed in such different and varied fields as industry, architecture, interior architecture and landscape, all of which include visual aspects of wayfinding, communicative identities and information. On the other hand, “environmental design” subsumes various aspects of architectural and ecological design, urban planning, landscapes, interior architecture and cultural heritage preservation in a broader sense which keeps close to the subjects related to architecture. In this context, projects (such as light design for volume and space, digital billboards, interactive architecture, electronic public art and animated facades) which are able to display a contiguous frontier between applied art and design will be embraced by the designers from both sides.

Two world-class studios in Northern America are worth mentioning here, namely Bruce Mau Deaign and Pentagram, which were the end products of some renowned contemporary architects like Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaus, Renzo Piano and Thom Mayne. The successful results of these projects stem from the team work and same-way designs by graphic designers and architects in recent years. This is the point that Bruce Mau always kept emphasizing. Some of these projects, among all, are Seattle Public Library, Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Mau designs, the Art Institute of Chicago, California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the Cooper Union Building in New York, the eighth street facade of the New York Times, designs by Abbott Miller and Michael Beirut

We are going to watch completely different and personal experiences by April Greiman in this issue, from his post-modern designs which she produced using his first Macintosh computer and her unique art of digital photography to projects for environmental design and architecture and her collaboration with Barton Myers Associates and Frank Gehry. I set up an interview with him in “Face-to-Face” column which I believe is going to give you more insight about her designs.

If we consider the surrounding “environment” as a three dimensional product, “graphic” elements as communicative messages, information and the senses resulting from them and the “design” as a simple solution to a specific problem, we can define “environmental graphic design” as a process to activate, inform and organize the milieu where people work, live and play or receive education*. Environmental graphic designers experience some common subjects of designing sign and wayfinding systems, architectural graphic design, exhibition pavilion design, pictogram design, designing stores and shopping malls, designing maps and tens of other subjects in various projects concerning space. Therefore, environmental graphic design is a process resulting from visual communication and the surrounding environment. It concentrates on communication among people and elements of the environment. It focuses on values and cultural diversity which play a significant role in today’s process of environmental graphic design. Paying attention to such matters as learning about individual and social spaces, pictorial patterns, international languages, native values, clients’ and consumers’ needs are the most basic and sensitive elements in this process.

* SEGD: Society for Environmental Graphic Design

Majid Abbasi

is design director of Studio Abbasi active in the international community, based in Tehran and Toronto. He leads a variety of design projects for start-ups, non-profits and educational organizations worldwide. Majid actively contributes to the international design scene as an instructor, jury member, curator and writer. He has been editor-in-chief of Neshan, the leading Iranian graphic design magazine since 2010. Majid has been members of Iranian Graphic Designers Society (IGDS) since 1998 and Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) since 2009.


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