Signs of the Times - January 2014 - (Page 96)
Ed it o r i a lly S p e aki n g
By Steve Aust
What's in a Name?
Does SEGD's new descriptor signal a shift?
ince I joined the ST staff, I've been a member of
SEGD. Until recently, that moniker meant Society
for Environmental Graphic Design. "Environmental
graphics" was a term I could readily identify. Environmental graphics entail myriad graphic applications
- monument signs, ADA, wallcoverings, wayfinding,
etc. - all of which define a built environment. In
November, the organization changed its name to
Society for Experiential Graphic Design.
According to Merriam-Webster, "experiential" is
simply an adjective that means "related to, derived
from or providing experience."
What does the term have to do with SEGD as an
organization? SEGD trumpeted the change as "looking
forward" in the early November press release that
announced its new descriptor, which was ratified by
its board of directors. Earlier, SEGD had modified its
mission statement to include "experience design."
Clive Roux, SEGD's CEO, described the transition
to new media as impetus for the change: "Static visual
communicatons work much like print, as a one-way,
controlled process that delivers a message at a precise
moment to help guide you in the environment. Digital
technologies bring the potential for expanding from
one-way instructional communication to the delivery
of content and a two-way dialogue between the user
and the technologies. Treated in a sensitive way,
through design, it holds the potential to significantly
improve the physical experience."
Roux has considerable industrial-design experience.
He holds a bachelor's degree for technology in industrial
design, and previously worked as a product designer
for Royal Phillips Electronics. Later, he led the
Industrial Designers Society of America.
Dynamic-digital signs' (DDS) market penetration
is undeniable; their interactive, informative nature may
enhance experiences. However, his assessment seems
to discount "static" signage. Such signage can assume
many forms: exterior, building-mounted letters whose
material or finish could closely reflect a building's
construction; an inkjet-printed wallcovering with
imagery that provides warmth or context for its
surroundings; intricately finished, CNC-routed or
waterjet-cut signage or logos; and, of course, wayfinding
and ADA-compliant signage and graphics, which provide an array of finishes, materials and textures.
I'm not a Luddite: I know DDS' potential. Yet, no
sign-industry product or service offers a panacea for
all applications in all environments. Technology
proffered simply for its own sake, or executed irrespon96 SIGNS OF THE TIMES January 2014
is ST's Senior Associate
Editor. A member
of its editorial staff
since 2000, his work
graphics, and 3-D
sibly, doesn't benefit our industry. Local-government
bans on outdoor, electronic message centers underscore
that all DDS types must be implemented carefully. SEGD
members are more apt to specify interior displays, but
any product misuse can lead to broad mistrust.
The sign industry's DDS interest has flourished -
note the Digital Signage Park at the last ISA Sign Expo
- but, most want and need to know more about DDS
and how to navigate abundant options. Deacon
Wardlow's article on page 60 affirms this need.
Again, how does this affect SEGD? Roux has said
the organization "won't walk away" from any discipline
within the realm of environmental graphics. I believe
him. However, non-DDS designers, fabricators and
vendors active in the organization must stay involved
to ensure an equal place at the table. If you don't speak,
your voice won't be heard.
SEGD and ISA are collaborating on many fronts (and
will do so again at April's Sign Expo), and the abundance
of shared information and documentation between
designers and fabricators has yielded better finished
products. I've learned about everything from ADAregulation updates to choosing materials at the SEGD
annual conferences and regional events I've attended.
I'm not alone in wondering about the name change
and its significance. On SEGDTalk, its e-mail Listserve,
most who commented were critical of the name change.
Many comments could be summarized as, "I just got
my clients to understand 'environmental' graphics;
how do I explain 'experiential?'" Some also griped that
the move was made with little communication to
In 10 years, "experiential" may be as ubiquitous
a term as "hashtag." But, it currently seems like an
overreach to appear trendy and forward-thinking. I'll
remain active, and will focus on finding common
ground rather than differences with fellow members.
However, I want SEGD to advocate and educate
equitably for all in the field. That's part and parcel
of any effective organization.
Still, there is precedent for industry-organization
changes following a new name. In 2003, the Screenprinting & Graphic Imaging Assn. (SGIA) changed its
name to the Specialty Graphic Imaging Assn. Anyone
who's been to an SGIA show since can attest that
screenprinting equipment has taken a back seat to its
inkjet brethren. n
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - January 2014
Signs of the Times - January 2014
Large-Format Design Strategies
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Agfa’s Jeti Titan X
Technology Review - Polytype’s NQ32 UV hybrid printer
GableSigns’ Casino Signs
Dynamic Digital Signage Made Simple
Building Street Cred
Modern Sign Engineering
Signs of the Times - January 2014