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Article: Basic Introduction & Guide to Environmental Design

Basic Introduction & Guide to Environmental Design

Environmental design enhances spaces with the natural, social, cultural, and environment of particular areas. Let's learn more about the basic introduction!

Created by Blank Studio |

Environmental design is a process of looking at the parameter of the surrounding environment when creating a plan, program, policy, building, or product. The environmental design tries to create spaces that will improve the natural, social, cultural, and physical conditions of certain areas. The classical design may always consider some aspects, such as the environment, but the environmental movement which has started decades ago has made this concept more vivid. 

Environmental design may also refer to some fields like art and applied knowledge which is connected with the creation of an environment designed by a human being. The addressing environments include architecture, geography, city planning, landscape architecture, and interior design. On a larger scale, environmental design may also have implications for industrial design and products. For example, automobiles, generators for wind power, the equipment for solar power, and other equipment. Nowadays, the term environmental design has even expanded its application into ecological and sustainability problems.  

Environmental design has become a major in university where a student studies how to do indoor or outdoor projects, personal and public space, and keep the original environment. This subject also focuses on enterprise, the shape of a farm, city planning, public facility, and amenity for people with special needs. You will be taught how to see the environment from different points of view so that you can make harmonious, functional, safe, comfortable buildings and keep the environment safe. When you graduate from this department, you can work as a designer of a city or community, environmental design expert, architect, interior designer, construction manager, even a developer for buildings or housings. 


The Introduction of Environmental Design

The introduction of environmental design happened in 500 BC in ancient Greek society. The first introduction of the concept is about the heat of the sun. At that time, people started to run out of firewood, and therefore they started to build houses which are able to trap the sun’s heat. Greece understood that the sun had been changing its position over the years. And by using an appropriate calculation, they build houses whose facade faces South so that they will receive small heat and even no heat at all in the summer; however, it will receive full heat in the winter so that it will warm the house all the season. Besides, this position will protect the house from the north wind, which is colder. This smart building arrangement gives influence to the cities’ pattern. With such orientation, many streets would run east-west. 

Another practice of environmental design introduction was found with Romans in the first century BCE. It was found that many public baths had oriented to the south. In this architecture, glass was added to the window to allow the light to get past and to trap the interior heat so that it won’t come out. This introduction practice has also been used to plant and grow crops and some exotic plants. 

With this sun’s heat orientation of the building and the use of glass to collect the sun’s heat, those ancient people identified how to utilize the energy from the sun. The people created curved mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays with enough intensity to be able to burn in seconds. 

Created by Nouvelle Administration |

While modern environmental design has begun in the late 19th century. The one who started as a designer named William Morris. He rejected the use of materials and industrial processes in wallpaper, clothes, and books that were produced in his studio. It is because he believed that those activities would harm nature as well as the workers. 

This introduction was enhanced by a documentary film entitled Ecological Design: Inventing the Future; the world was told that it was forced to face the dark side of science and industry. Buckminster Fuller, a 20th-century thinker, has acted to enlarge the concern about environmental design. Nowadays, many sectors of industry would apply the strategy which is saved for the environment. 

By integrating renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and even geothermal energy into our lives, enables us to create buildings with zero emission, where energy consumption can generate itself and creates no pollution. It is also possible to build "energy-plus buildings" which produce more energy than it is consumed, and then the excess could be sold to the power network. 

Created by DLR Group |


Experiential Graphic Design

Since the introduction of technology, graphic design has been a popular field today. Its existence has been very helpful in so many aspects of our lives. Can you imagine that you are visiting a new building which you have never visited before? It will be difficult for you to find a certain office or a certain direction you want to go if there’s no direction board or direction signs. Even you may get lost easily. With the introduction of environmental design, which now has enlarged into graphics, people won’t be facing all those difficulties anymore. 


What is Experiential graphic design?

The introduction of environmental design, as we know, has been started thousands of years ago. And today, we recognize graphic projects as one of the developments of design since their introduction. It includes the use of graphic elements such as typography, color, texture to regulate and enhance the experience owned by someone when he is in a certain place or spot. In addition, the creation should also contain a message or a story for the user. So, in other words, an experiential graphic project uses architectural elements such as color, typography, and texture to tell a message in a physical room so that the user understands what it means. 

Every graphic element has a different role in giving new experiences to the users; here is the example:

1. Color

The introduction of color would describe the mood or feeling in a certain spot. You can make the room you choose to be playful, energetic, or even sad. Color may also enable you to group, highlight, and differentiate a room or its portion. 

2. Typography 

The introduction of a message or ideas of your creation can be done by this element. This element plays a role in giving information to the user through text. The main purpose is to identify, give labels, and show the direction for the users so that they won’t be confused when they enter the room. 

3. Imagery

This one is another important element in graphics, where it could be one of the ways to communicate the purpose of the information presented. By the introduction of images in your projects, it may evoke emotion that you want to convey. 

4. Texture

The introduction of texture will add an extra dimension in space, for example, adding the sensory element or touch, either physically or metaphorically. This may intrigue the user’s emotions so that they will feel connected to the space available. For example, if you wanted the users to feel like being on the beach, then you can create sand beaches texture on the wall or on other objects you are creating.

Created by Claan |


Purpose of Environmental Design

Environmental design has also introduced two ways how it helps people get connected to the space; they are:

1. How to navigate physical space

How this environmental design helps people give visual signs is by telling people how to navigate physical space. For example, in an international airport, which is very large, people will need many direction signs. It is important to tell people where to go, which gate he has to enter, where to get the baggage, where to go to the rest room and many other important spots.  

The signage is also important on the highway. By looking at the direction board available, people would easily find out where to get out of the freeway, when to stop in the intersection, or where to find the rest area where he needs to rest. This process is called wayfinding.

2. Sharing Information of a Certain Place to Make it More Popular

Another signal from the experiential design in graphics is also used to share information about a certain or a new place to make it more familiar for people. It is meant that people around know that they are at the right place, for example, a mall, a station, or an airport. It is more like verification of their being. 

This visual sign can also be meant as branding, where you show identity by using a logo to make the connection between the brand, the place, and the visitors. This concept is commonly called communicating identity. 

Created by Dewi Glanville |


Kinds of Experiential graphic design

As is stated earlier, that experiential graphic project is the combination of some designs such as graphic, architecture, and interior projects. Therefore, this environmental design is applicable in so many aspects in order to make the visitors feel better. There are some kinds of experiential graphic creation that you may find today; they are:

1. Wayfinding

    Like its name, its main function is to help people to get the right direction of where they want to go. The wayfinding system is aimed to inform people of their location, what location they want to go to, and how to go there. In order to make the user's experience a good thing, an interior designer should work hard to make a good and well-understood wayfinding system, so people won’t get lost.

    The introduction of this system is commonly done in important public places like hospitals, offices, airports, terminals, and some-stories buildings where many departments or sections are inside. 

    2. Exhibition

      The exhibition is another form of introduction. The project aims to inform the visitors through architecture, graphics, interaction, lighting, and audio, including the technology as well. 

      To make the visitors stay as long as possible in the exhibition, it takes a creation where the exhibition can tell a story and a message in an effective and interesting way. 

      3. Interactive Experience

        The introduction of this environmental design is another level of design. It introduces the direct involvement of the users with the whole physical space. A designer who prepares this development plan should work hard and carefully since it is not an easy job to do the introduction of this system. The system needs an interactive experience that can be accessed by various audiences. This kind of environmental design is definitely set to be able to be touched by the audiences, so that’s why it takes interaction from the visitors, not only to be displayed. 

        4. Public Installation

          This one can also give a unique experience for the users. Commonly, the introduction of public installation is meant to show certain characteristics from a location in the context of geography or history. As the installation is more interesting, people will remember it longer than others. 

          5. Placement and Identity

            Experiential Graphic projects may also inform about placement and the identity of a place. Its goal is to make people aware of where they are and acknowledge the identity of the place itself. For example, people are in an airport, and they know what airport it is. 

            If you’re looking at your environment and surrounding today, you’ll notice that the introduction of graphic designs has reached its goal. They’re not hiding anymore. It’s even has become part of our daily lives. The street signs are the simple form of environmental design which gives you the correct direction where to go. If you remember that, then the designer has done his job well. In addition, environmental design can give you an unforgettable experience, and you can also bring it into an advantage in the marketing field to help you be successful there. The use of experiential graphic designs has been spread in many aspects of our lives. 

            Created by Admind Branding & Communications |


            Best Practices of Experiential Graphic Design 

            Now that we have discussed what experiential graphic design is and how to use it, here are some of the practices that you could place it best to optimize its function. 

            1. Wayfinding

              Since its introduction, graphic projects have developed in very large dimensions. To make it more effective, pay attention to some considerations below: 

              1.1. Don’t confuse people with too much information
              You know that people cannot absorb much information at one time. So be careful in choosing the right graphics. The introduction of signage like “Gate B1-B5” with an arrow below pointing right would be much effective. 

              1.2. Highlight decision point
              When someone needs to take action or take direction, for example, at a junction on the road, it’s important to help them with the signage of a certain direction. 

              1.3. Show vividly every different part of a space.
              It’s important to differentiate every section of space, especially when it is a large one, like an airport. To show different terminals, the airport design may use different colors to make it easily spot by people’s attention. Moreover, different tracks may be identified by different colors as well. 

              2. Environmental Graphics

              To make it more effective in usage, follow the rules below:

              2.1. Text placement
              Before placing certain signage, pay attention to where people might look at it. Don’t put the text lower than the eye level; otherwise, people won’t look at it. Likewise, when you hang the signage very high, you should make sure that the text is large enough so that people would read it easily from far away. 

              2.2. Choose Appropriate Color

              You should be careful in choosing the color. Think about where people would look at your signs when you set them on space. Remember that color may represent a certain mood or feeling. Make sure that the color you choose will intrigue the right mood or feeling that you expect from the audience. Put red when you want to create an energetic atmosphere. Choose blue when you want to make a calm and safe feeling. Take yellow when you want to promote happiness and cheerfulness, and green for nature or healthiness. 

              2.3. Lighting

              Consider your light source as well. The perfect light would bring a great experience of how people receive color. For example, a shimmering light has a warmer shade, while bright light is cooler. 

              2.4. Incorporate Texture
              It’s easier to keep your design flat without including any texture in it; moreover, when the materials that you need will add up, your cost is higher. But you have to remember that texture may have a tangible effect on people’s feelings about the space he is being. Even people around them may have a specific experience toward the space as well. 

                        2.5. Less is More
                          The introduction of signage should focus on the main message or information to be conveyed. Therefore, creating an environmental design based on that is a must. 

                          Even if you have a large enough board, don’t tend to make it full with much information. It may end up confusing your audiences. Just make sure that you make it “enough”; even the individual graphics should be as simple as possible. 

                          Created by Blank Studio |



                          Experiential graphic design is one of the environmental designs which is commonly utilized by people today. Since its introduction and along with the development of technology, all kinds of designs have found their best way to be as gorgeous as possible. However, simple is always the best way since the main point is how to transform your message or ideas to the audience in an effective way.  

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