A Stair-Well Done

Staircases are often neglected parts of buildings, hidden away and often used merely when the power’s gone off.

In an effort to encourage students and staff to use the stairs and engage in healthier lifestyles, Central’s Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design students were given the task to create an attractive navigation system for the stairwell.

The large cohort of international students at Central inspired the final design. Students from 82 different countries are a major part of the diverse cultural makeup of Central and the stairwell designs were created to reflect that.

The designs feature several languages to both reflect student diversity and encourage international to feel more at home while on campus.

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Graphic designer Scott Weir was inspired by living and working in Japan where he could not read the advertisements or directional signage.

“Living and studying in a country where you can’t read the advertisements is quite off-putting. I lived and worked in Japan for a while and used to take a route to work that went past a cinema that had Western movie posters. I found it extremely comforting after being exposed to mass advertisements in Kanji that I could not read.  The English posters were a small tonic for homesickness”, said Scott.

Students were involved in the project from the outset by being invited to translate a broad range of key words into their native languages. The wide range of text and letter forms were incorporated into the final typographic design.  The final aesthetic approach harmoniously blended new and old styles, while adhering to clear way-finding principles.

“The primary way-finding principles of visibility and clarity would stand in terms of the numerals, arrows and so forth, and also in terms of the simple, solid repetitive use of colour”, said Tom Vaughan.

The concept of multicultural typography incorporated elements like scrollwork and the Japanese hanko ‘chop’ or stamp. Those elements were used to create stylised texture and age within the design to blend it with the building. The design uses a wide range of colours but in a softer palette than the typical brash colours used in way-finding.

The final result is a bold, crisp and clear design that does not overpower and reflects the diversity and ingenuity of Central students.

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