Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 40
PROHEALTH MEDICAL GROUP, WAUKESHA, WI; SIGNAGE: KIEFFER | STARLITE
DESIGNING THE FUTURE
According to Andreasson, the best designers go beyond
wayfinding: "The international design trend is to make
[a hospital] more like a comfortable hotel. We have seen
a bit of a move away from endless over-signed places.
Any facility that's been there for a length of time tends to
accumulate years of modification and changes that are
done somewhat ad hoc. A lot of the hospitals try to keep
a comprehensive design theme through the entire program." That means streamlined designs that guide visitors
efficiently, not overwhelming, tell-all designs.
Healthcare execs are realizing what their peers in retail
and hospitality have long known: It's all about aesthetics.
In hospitals, that means minimizing anxiety and clutter,
as with reader boards that are functional, not flashy. "They
don't want it to be garish, but they see the need," McCarthy
said. He's even been selling electronic message centers for
outdoor signage that promotes such fashionable offerings
as cooking classes and wellness programs.
Plus, an increasingly tech-savvy population gravitates
to touchscreens that help with wayfinding and even play.
Children's hospitals have been on the forefront, Andreasson said, citing color-changing walls and large-scale
digital prints. "The whole thrust of this is to make these
environments more relaxing, inviting and interactive."
ADVICE FOR SMALL SHOPS
The truth about the future is that it's not in the hands of
national sign companies alone. Some, like Kieffer | Starlite,
don't yet offer a top-to-bottom service. And, per McCarthy,
it's unlikely anyone truly does. He believes his competitors
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
specialize in external or internal work - then subcontract
to others: "You can't be good at both; you really can't. All
that ADA sign stuff is really specialized and any company
that is doing the interior stuff is not doing exteriors," he said.
Yet, Andreasson said his company prefers to do it all.
There's evidence he's fairly successful, too; DCL boasts 40
healthcare clients, about a dozen of which are current.
His words for smaller shops are clear: "I wouldn't look
to healthcare if profit margins are shrinking elsewhere.
Healthcare is one of the most cost-conscious groups out
there." These projects can sink a shop that funnels its
resources into an all-consuming job, adding installers only
to fire them months later. He thought Howard's approach
- getting on the vendor list, starting small - made sense.
The trick is not to overextend yourself, which can lead to
"So often with these, you're really only as good as your
last project," Andreasson said. "They need to do the job and
finish it successfully to have that accumulated knowledge
to leverage into new opportunities." And Ed Davies, multimedia marketing manager for Kieffer | Starlite added this
advice: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket in retail;
there's a lot more out there." So true.
As for Howard, our interview reminded her she never
did figure out who did the original signage. She's still
determined to find out.