A Rift Between Heroes

Designer's VS aArchitects

Architects and Graphic Designers are
stronger together.

Sometimes heroes quarrel. Even with similar aesthetic directed motives Graphic Designers and Architects do not always "see eye to eye". Designers can be short sighted not always understanding functional requirements and building codes. Architects can undervalue the impact that typography can bring to a space. Together the two can fight the real enemy ... a mundane environment that is not even up to code.

Experiential or Environmental Graphic Design are fairly new terms in the world of design. They evolved from the successful collaboration between architects and designers. Through understanding of shared design principles, graphic designers and architects are successfully able to solidify a sense of place.

Super Powers

Architecture requires a great deal of planning, designing, and engineering prior to it’s construction. Architects are not only trying to create a functional space but are also creating an experience. Sometimes in the overall planning of a building, smaller more personal experiences may not be considered. Typography acts as a host, intimate and relatable, providing non-audible guidance for visitors. Different type treatment can reflect company culture, if not considered it may work against it.


Architecture speaks of form, space, and purpose, celebrating human continuity and offering experiences that both function and inspire,”

says Poulin, SEGD Fellow and founding principal of Poulin + Morris (New York).

“Graphic design—typography, image, and symbol—communicates the subtleties of time and place and tells cultural and visual stories, clarifying a building’s purpose and echoing its architectural message.”


Given the amount of detail, planning and consideration architecture demands, it is essential that a graphic designer is considered during planning stages. Poorly designed building signage can contradict the intent of the space. Designers are well trained to create experiences for all different levels of engagement. Creating mock-ups, style guides and defining company personas initially can save costs, allowing for ideation in a budget friendly way.

Signage and graphics reinforce the character and intentions of the architecture they encompass. Wayfinding systems, signage, and environmental graphics have all become examples of how architecture and graphic design work together creating experiential design. Signage should be an extension of the architecture, not an afterthought. Carefully planned signage creates a visual language system that reinforces company culture through identity and cohesiveness. Specific identities and environments should be designated within the space, through color, typography, and repetition. Defining the space and reinforcing the atmosphere will ensure that the visitor has a memorable experience.

Calling all heroes... Timeless spaces require an attention to detail on all levels, from the depths of the bat cave to the top floor of the daily planet.