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(De)signing the Way

airfield views Large windows overlooking the airfield help to pull passengers in the direction of their gates. People tend to walk towards light.

Airport wayfinding systems guide thousands of travelers through a complex web of counters, customs and concourses, yet since they’re designed to be intuitive, the tricks of the trade often go unnoticed. by Katie Sehl | Illustration Marcelo Cáceres

typeface Three typefaces are used in 75 percent of airport wayfinding signage:

A large “X” height improves legibility.

2

Helvetica Frutiger

3

Clearview

1

Sans serifed fonts are easier to read on signage.

Prominent ascenders.

pictograms

Currency Exchange

Arriving Flights

Shop

In 1974, the US Department of Transportation commissioned the American Institute of Graphic Arts to produce a comprehensive set of 50 pictograms. The designers surveyed pictograms used around the world, including Tokyo International Airport and the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and rated them based on legibility, recognizability, and their resistance to vandalism.

Kiosk

Café

The “transfer pictogram” has not been standardized, as it was less needed when pictograms were developed.

Restaurant

Promintent descenders. Text using upper and lowercase letters with initial caps is easier to read than all uppercase lettering.

Apertures are the area of the letter that is partially enclosed.

International

Welcome Bienvenidos

Arrows are traditionally placed on the left side of a sign, however when an arrow is pointing right, some designers opt to “pull” the message by placing the arrow on the right side.

Clear sight lines help travelers see their destinations from greater distances and lessen the need to rely on signs.

Sign Language

LCD monitors can be programmed to display the local and originating flight’s language.

Customs

parking

Currency Exchange

Gift Shop

A blue background with a white capital “P” is universally understood as a sign indicating a parking area.

Domestic

40%

Domestic

of passengers are interested in navigation services on mobiles.

ARRIVALS

Interactive directories are now available at many airports.

At Schiphol airport, designer Max Kisman opted to replace traditional parking signs with recognizable symbols of Dutch culture such as a tulip, skater and farmer.

Information

car rental

Car Rental

The results of a 2003 study on symbols most associated with car rental signs, prepared for Pearson International Airport. Departures

20%

37%

29%

Arrivals

14% Bus

Taxi

Outside the Airport

The top of every street sign related to HartsfieldJackson Atlanta International Airport terminals has a curved edge that reflects the building’s arched roof and functions as a subconscious wayfinding cue.

APEX Experience – The Journey Issue  

APEX Experience – The Journey Issue

APEX Experience – The Journey Issue  

APEX Experience – The Journey Issue