Designing storytelling, in brand experience and place-journey-making.
Earlier in my career, I was studying the concept of signage design in the setting of Imperial Roman culture. From the 500 — 1500 years, BCE, to roughly 400 ACE the idea of cutting important messages in stone was a respected art. American paleographers, and epigraphers, researchers of ancient writing and stone-applied graphics supported a hands-on approach to learning, holistically, the history of the letter.
I studied stone [and papyrus, vellum, paper-based letterform history] in college from about 3,000 BCE to the latter part of the 1800s — these were scribed, sequenced and gathered in sheets of butcher-block signing paper, on rolls that I wheeled around campus to draw on — mostly written with hand-cut bamboo reed pens that I’d made for oversized interpretations. I’d select paleographic samples — the best exemplars that I could locate — in classics on writing history, including books like Lowe’s “Codices Antiquiores,” Thompson’s exemplar on paleography, from the Girvin Rare Book Library.
Or the Festschrift, “Calligraphy And Palaeography” –
study references. Study, draw, practice. Start over.
I’d find the write study sample, and draw it, feeling of the movement of fingers, hands, rhythm and touch — all free hand, all open script. I’d practice, drawing, again and again. these broadsides still exist, filed in the old flat files of Girvin’s archives.
The idea of exploring signing – designing messages for way-finding, helping people find their way was something too, starting in college — literally, “marking ways.” This, too, became, paper, then metal, then stone. It was a storytelling of ways to understand place. Find a way, way-found, and the storytelling of place–made, revealed in a tiering of messaging — the story can be understood in a big telling, a emboldened statement, with layered messaging,
with many paths,
winding and weaving
What I contemplated, in studying the epigraphy of Ephesus, was the layering of messages, in place — and rather than the formal — “you are here” there was more delicacy to textual content.
What if there was a staggering of messages; there was one tier — “you are here;” and then another layering of message, and another, and another?
Walking the ancient byroads of ancient Ephesus — a 10th century BCE town that was birthed in a Greek foundational legacy, later touched upon by the Romans, and finally known as the Turkish Efes — extensively “signed” — this idea of layered storytelling in stone-cut lettering is an extensive array of messages, and there is a sequencing of communications, storytelling, place-making details that play on this idea; they, of course, as the original tellers.
A GALLERY OF LAYERED STORYTELLING, AND THE EPIGRAPHY OF EPHESIAN NARRATIVE
Signing — a story, big, to smaller priorities of communication — from “where you are,” to “the meaning of this place — who’s been here, before.” These photographs, gathered from a quiet, and lonely, to crowded and bustling series of thoroughfares.
What I’m fascinated by, is a kind of horror vacui — “use it all” kind of messaging thinking; there’s a story to tell, layer-in the content, over everything, everywhere.
We’ve been applying that strategy, with a greater sense of delicacy, in other signing and storytelling in making place. Like, for example, our efforts in taking messages and layering them into tiers of content for guests, scientists and researchers at Seattle Biomed, a research institute that Girvin has been supporting in brand consulting since 2000.
An array of imagery in exploring that idea — messaging that tiers in contrast and meaning, and appears — as signing — in the most surprising and compelling points of “aha.”
The point for us, like many of the things that we design, presumes that people access content — stories — that are told in a manner that they can be held: “I was told this story, now let me retell it to you, since it’s ‘my story’ now.”
AN SEATTLE BIOMED GALLERY OF SIGNING AND MESSAGE LAYERING
Subtle, but thoughtful in the context of layered content, shown in a manner to surprise, invite, enchant and inspire.
You can find your way, know where you are, and learn more in that place, that might perhaps set a new path for how you find your way, going forward.
A new meaning of “way-finding.” It’s reaching more to “finding a way.”
TIM | SELÇUK, Türkiye
G I R V I N | N E W WOWNESS
CREATING STRATEGIES, PRODUCTS,
IDEAS FOR CHANGE.