Wayfinding leads people from point a to point b, through the use of design devices such as spatial sequencing, or more commonly, signage. Wayfinding is traditionally taught within the realm of graphic design, since this field primarily concerns itself with communication. It uses imagery, color, and typography to orient people and lead them from point to point within a space. But there are problems with traditional wayfinding:

  • It assumes everyone knows exactly where they want to go (ummm…Do you?). 
  • It also assumes everyone wants to take the most direct path getting there (frequently the journey is often far more fun).
  • These assumptions don’t always hold up, but they are have become entrenched within the ways we teach wayfinding design.

Knowhere: Designing Ways to Teach Wayfinding creates a teaching model where different methods of navigation are directly acknowledged, addressed, and used to open a dialogue about the potentials of wayfinding design and education. And it develops this model through the design of tools that encourage participants to wander, interact with, and explore their surroundings.

A PDF version of the Knowhere: Designing Ways to Teach Wayfinding process journal can be found here.

knowhere1.jpg
research tends to take over one's life...

research tends to take over one's life...

extensive user-testing protocols were enacted

extensive user-testing protocols were enacted


wander: a roadkit for exploring knowhere

We can’t expect students to understand wayfinding ideas through the traditional model of lectures and reading assignments. Students learn best through experience, so we need to show them instead. The Roadkit for Exploring Knowhere is a design tool for doing just that.

the full roadkit—handmade bag, pencil holder (with custom gluestick and TSA-approved x-acto knife), exploration prompt cards, field book, camera, and water bottle

the full roadkit—handmade bag, pencil holder (with custom gluestick and TSA-approved x-acto knife), exploration prompt cards, field book, camera, and water bottle

drawing prompts provide ideas on how to “find” wayfinding clues

drawing prompts provide ideas on how to “find” wayfinding clues

details of roadkit components—cards, field book, camera, and water bottle

roadkit packaging with research summary book


interact: digital tools for finding knowhere

The fundamental idea behind knowhere is in showing students that context and behavior affect navigation. To keep the lessons relevant, a series of interactive tools evolved to augment the Roadkit.

The iPhone/iPad app and social media website mimic their Roadkit counterparts, encouraging travelers to document their journeys for further discussion with their peers.

category screens in the iPhone app provide access to different ways of tagging, mapping, and exploring wayfinding ideas.

category screens in the iPhone app provide access to different ways of tagging, mapping, and exploring wayfinding ideas.

The website provides access to knowhere information and resources, but inspires exploration by hiding navigation clues in the backgrounds.

knowhere online community screen


explore: finding knowhere all around

Is it possible to reach a larger audience, perhaps outside of the specific target? Can it be done in a way that evokes curiosity? Maybe… If we immerse students in the learning. The exhibit Knowhere: Finding the Ways We Wayfind did just that.

floorplan of applied vinyl graphics

floorplan of applied vinyl graphics