Within a mile of my house, there are a number of high-profile landmarks that I can’t help but share with visitors to Seattle. The Fremont troll sculpture under the Aurora Bridge with a real Volkswagen Beetle clutched in one of his giant hands. The Woodland Park Zoo, with its crowd-pleasing penguins and flamingos. And let’s not forget the organic and fair-trade chocolate factory.
All the places I just listed are what you’d call touristy—easily found in a Fodor’s guide alongside every other big landmark in the Fremont district. As designers, we’re often tasked with promoting these big-draw destinations.
But every local community, no matter how urban in nature, is full of unique and wonderful spots that have great meaning to its inhabitants—lovely locations that just wouldn’t fit in the hundred-dollar guided bus tour.
For this challenge, you’ve been tasked with sharing these special places.
In 2 hours, create simple, non-invasive signage that explains the provenance of the places that you most often frequent in your community. What kind of information should you include to communicate the importance of each location to both locals and tourists? How can these signs be displayed in a manner that doesn’t add visual noise to your entire neighborhood? Your solution does not need to be physical—it could be digital.
In the example above, designer Grace Cheong chose Mile End, a lively and diverse neighborhood of Montreal. “This area is known for its independent music and arts scene, cozy cafés and restaurants, cute little boutiques, its coffee and bagels and its architectural staple, the triplex … which is the base unit of the row housing that makes up most of the residential streets. It is divided into three separate apartments stacked one on top of the other.”
“The logo is inspired by the triplex form and by the bricks and stone that are the primary building materials in the area.”
Grace devised her tour route: “An intertwining closed loop delineated by lines set into the sidewalk serves to direct the user on a casual walking tour of the area. One can join the ‘tour’ at any given point in the loop. Points of interest are marked by a custom wooden bench with planters. Each bench in the series is linked to the next by lines marked out in the cement leading you from one point of interest to the next. These benches serve not only as resting spots and sign posts, but also provide site history to the user and serve to add a little more green to the somewhat urban area. The engraved lines on the bench continue to join up with the lines marked out on the cement leading you to the next location in either direction.”
Every week, I’ll be sharing with the design community a creative challenge, alongside sample solutions from working designers and students. The above challenge is from my book for HOW Design Press, Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills, which has just been released.