The Role of Environmental Graphic Design

  • by Lois Nur Fathiarini
  • June 11, 2023
  • 4 minutes read


Going to public places or facilities sometimes can be troublesome if there’s no clear signage. Especially in big space such as airports or train stations, people can easily lost inside the building without proper signage. This is where environmental graphic design is important.

Environmental Graphic Design, according to Hill & Partners, is the use of graphic elements such as typography, colors and textures to adjust and enhance someone’s experience when they are inside a place. An additional emphasis is that a design has to give message and story for its users.

Sometimes environmental graphic design is misinterpreted as design that is related with environmental issues. Put it in a simple way, it comprises of architectural elements such as colors, typography and textures to create a message in a physical space to be experienced by users. Some example of graphic elements are:

  • Colors. This graphic element is highly influential for space atmosphere or mood. Giving the right color can emphasize some nuance such as energetic, gloomy or playful.
  • Typography. This graphic element has important role in giving text information for users. It helps to identify, labelling and give directions for users.
  • Texture. This element adds extra dimension in a space, such as adding sensoric element and also related with room accoustic.
source: G2

A quick, good example of environmental graphic design is exhibition rooms at a museum or public gallery. Each exhibition room has its own nuance and atmosphere so the audience can get extra experience while enjoying the related artworks. Some rooms can also designed temporarily according to the displayed artwork installations. This is environmental graphic design that is very specific in terms of its audience and objectives.

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Visual Cues in Environmental Graphic Design

Navigating the Physical Space

source: vgl.co.uk

With wayfinding system, environmental graphic design can give visual cue that helps people to navigate physical space or building. For example, in a train station or airport, there are visible building signage to give directions. This helps visitors and employees to direct them where to go. Town or road signages also help drivers with directions and rules of an area.

Promoting a Place

Visual cues in environmental graphic design can also used to deliver information to promote a place. For example, in a multifunctional or mix use building like a hotel and mall hybrid, interior signages would be very helpful for visitor to direct them into specific parts of the building. Such visual cue can be in showing brand identity or logo in a particular area to give connection between the brand, the place and its visitors.

Real Life Implementations

Directional Signage

source: designerpeople.com

Directional signage system’s purpose is to give information to other people about their current locations, their destination, and which way to go. To get a good experience during a trip to a place, a designer-whether urban planner or interior- has to do a good job in making wayfinding system.


source: nelsonworldwide.com

Whether it’s art exhibition or business exhibition, a design form to deliver messages to exhibition visitors can be achieved through graphic design, interaction design, architecture, lighting and audio design and technology. To increase visitors’ length-of-stay on an exhibition, an effective and interesting way to deliver message and stories is highly important.

Public Installations

source: storeys.com

Generally, a public installation is designed to show a characteristic of a location on its geographic or historical context. Public installation is also a part of environmental graphic design that can gives particular experience for its visitors.

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Interactive Experience

source: segd.org

In a physical room, UX implementations in environmental graphic design becomes more interesting because it is focused in users’ direct participation with the whole physical room. This UX implementation is quite challenging for designers, because its development is quite complex. The design itself usually was made to be touched and visitors’ interaction is needed for the UX design to work. This can also be a part of experiential graphic design.

Placement and Identity

source: segd.org

Environmental Graphic Design also has its role to give information about placement and identity of a place. The purpose is so that visitors aware about where they are at the moment, and acknowledge the place’s identity.


Environmental Graphic Design is a mix of graphic design, interior design, and architecture. It can be applied in various different places to create better experience for people. It cannot be separated from our daily life, since it’s implementation is everywhere, from bathroom signage inside a building to road signage in public space.


Hello! My name is Lois, I live in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. I am a tattoo artist and I also love sewing and making needleworks. I also do watercolor painting and illustrations.

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