As a member of wkrm Design, I had the opportunity to work with a team of designers to help develop concepts for signage at thirteen23's office in Downtown Austin. Each team produced concepts for signage that would be interesting and engaging as well as accomplish basic goals like assisting in wayfinding and branding. While every concept I provided was not included in our final presentation, we all were inspired by each other and considered the use of different elements in a variety of different ways.
My initial sketches were hand drawn ideas for signage, some of which included placing content on each of the cement blocks that remain from the old Yarings Department store signage, "capping" the blocks to create one large piece of signage rather than seven separate ones, and a variety ideas for wayfinding and interactive signage options in the doorway areas of the building. A myriad of other ideas were jotted down and sketched out and tons of options were considered.
After coming together as a group, we each then refined our ideas, and I selected three different ideas to present along with each of my teammates.
The first included the use of a parametric speaker connected to a motion sensor that would play music, voice, or a sound related to thirteen23 when anyone walks by, and only be heard by those directly beneath the speaker. The idea was to both gain the attention of the walker by surprising them with auditory stimulation and operate as a method for wayfinding if the sound used was directive or informed the walker that they had arrived at the office they were looking for.
The second was inspired by predictive AI technology being developed that allows for creation of data that predicts the future based on a knowledge bank of stored data, almost like a human brain. Because thirteen23 works frequently with data visualization, I thought it would be interesting to try making use of available data prediction models on a smaller scale and pursue the concept of visualizing future data that hasn't occurred yet.
The final was a proposal to place lighting on the seven blocks and have that lighting shows the thirteen23 logo flipped and rotated in different ways, moving across the blocks as one rather than being confined to their individual sections of the signage. This idea would eliminate the need for any sort of "cap" over the existing signage and the movement of the logos could be influenced by a variety of data sets like wind speed or temperature.
Finally, we each came up with a single idea or two to present at our last meeting, and my suggestion was a kind of combination between two of the previous ideas. A return to interest in how data could be visualized, I came up with the idea for each of the seven concrete blocks to be lit with different images that take the forms and colors of the thirteen23 logo, with the actual logo at the bottom. These images would represent different data sets like traffic, weather, and time. The greater quantity of an image that is lit up, the more of that thing is present. For example, one water drop would denote light rain, while three represents a heavy downpour. I thought that to give the sign an interesting twist, the second to last block could be left blank in the proposal and thirteen23 could choose to update it with relevant holidays or events or other data they would find it interesting to track. I also felt that using bats one one of the cement blocks to represent the time of day would be both fun and playful, but also cement (pun intended) thirteen23's presence as an Austin design firm, referencing both the Austin bat population--with there being fewer bats earlier in the day and more towards nightfall--and the location of the office being on Congress St, not far from the bridge that the city's bats like to call home. Overall, I loved this idea for its simplicity, playfulness, and flexibility.