Picture This!

Employing imagery to foster human connections within the built environment
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By Amanda C Voss, MPP
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Artworks present a cohesive design when they are placed in harmonious relation to one another and selected together to define and present a fully integrated space.

Adding imagery throughout the built environment brings continuity to both the building and the occupant experience. With the right materials, design professionals can craft a striking design and ensure sustainability and significant savings by stopping damage before it happens. Thanks to innovations in technology, facility designers no longer have to compromise their visions with drab institutional products, nor do they have to sacrifice durability for aesthetics.

>Walls are one of the largest elements of the interiors. Printed wall protection provides them with a purpose. However, artworks function better when they are placed in harmonious relation to one another. An integrated space requires cohesiveness within the artistic selections.

How to choose imagery:
Step 1: Connection. Consider the type of connection desired between occupant and the built environment.
Step 2: Consider your brand. Imagery in a space should be cohesive and bring continuity to the space and support the desired connection.
Step 3: Create a theme. Determine the best arrangement for images, including desired impact and placement.
Step 4: Sizing and application. Based on design criteria, identify image location and product type throughout the environment.

Photo courtesy of Inpro

The concept of imagery in branding is valuable in diverse environments, including schools. Carefully chosen images and art can highlight an educational group’s values, mission, and community.

Practical Application: Selecting Imagery for a School

The burgundy, maroon color of Harvard and the deep navy of Yale are immediately identifiable. The color schemes link indelibly with the school logos and large brick, colonial architecture. Art, design, and branding reach beyond just a logo or the crest on a student’s uniform. They can unite to form an institution’s voice, image, reputation, and what differentiates the school from competitors. A school’s brand is about defining what the institution is to staff, students, and the community. The goal of a design is to reinforce the school’s immediate and future goals, values, and mission.

Schools that effectively utilize branding have capitalized on multiple creative channels to share who they are. But schools can also promote their brand through effective use of design and architectural products.

Photo courtesy of Inpro

Wall graphics can provide an enhanced learning environment while distinguishing the institution’s core values.

Architectural Product Elements: Wall Graphics

Wall graphics can play a significant role in enhancing a school’s branding by creating a visually engaging and stimulating environment that reflects the school’s values, mission, and culture. Education systems can utilize wall graphics to:

  1. Showcase the school’s identity. Display the school’s name, logo, and colors prominently throughout the campus, reinforcing the institution’s identity and creating a sense of pride among the students, faculty, and staff.
  2. Communicate the school’s values and mission. Through inspirational quotes, images, and graphics, schools can help create a positive and welcoming environment that reflects its educational philosophy and goals.
  3. Create a sense of community. Wall graphics can be used to highlight the school’s community spirit and celebrate its achievements. This can include displaying pictures of students and staff members, showcasing student artwork and accomplishments, and highlighting the school’s athletic teams and extracurricular activities.
  4. Enhance the learning environment. Create visually stimulating and engaging spaces that promote creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking. For example, graphics can be used to display educational content, diagrams, and maps that support the curriculum, or large-scale imagery for positive emotional effects.

Architectural Product Elements: Signs

School signage does not start and end at the school gates. School signage can play a crucial role in contributing to a school’s branding efforts by creating a consistent and recognizable visual identity throughout the campus.

  1. Signs can showcase the school’s identity. Displaying the school’s name, logo, and colors prominently throughout the campus, reinforces identity and creates a sense of pride among the students, faculty, and staff.
  2. Signs create a first impression. School signage can be the first point of contact for visitors, students, and parents when they enter the campus. It can create a positive and welcoming first impression by displaying the school’s name, logo, mascot, and colors prominently.
  3. Signs can reinforce brand identity. School signage can help reinforce the school’s brand identity by displaying consistent branding elements throughout the campus. This can include using the same fonts, colors, and graphics in all signage and communication materials.
  4. Signs enhance wayfinding. School signage can be used to enhance wayfinding by displaying directional signs, maps, and information about the campus layout. This can help visitors and students navigate the campus easily and feel more safe and comfortable.
  5. Signs communicate key messages. School signage can be designed to communicate key messages, such as the school’s mission, values, and achievements. This can help build a sense of community and pride among students, staff, and parents.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in July 2023


Picture This!
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