DutchScot’s wayfinding system for London’s Design District is a celebration of its eclectic nature
Located in North Greenwich, London’s Design District is a permanent home for the creative industries. The cluster of workspaces consists of 16 buildings designed by eight pioneering architects and boasts a striking mix of styles, materials, and structures. In need of a wayfinding and signage system that celebrates the eclectic nature of the area, the Design District team approached London-based design and branding consultancy DutchScot. The resulting system of exterior and interior signage, built around the playful idea of ‘pinning,’ is a fitting nod towards the creative nature of the district’s residents and their processes.
Building upon the brand’s existing identity, developed by Magpie Studio and Socio, DutchScot aimed to keep everything in line with the existing direction. “The wayfinding and signage needed to feel ‘on brand’ but we were also keen that the District didn’t feel overly branded,” DutchScot’s Co-founder Jacob Vanderkar explains. Noticing the directional nature of the logo, which resembles a house flipped on its side, the team saw this as a key starting point for outdoor directional signage. The signs are wrapped around existing street furniture, providing a contemporary spin on fingerposts. The brand’s existing vibrant palette and use of Colophon Foundry’s Mabry are utilised to aid navigation to the alphanumerically named courtyards and buildings.
In keeping with the brand typeface, the team developed a set of wayfinding-specific icons. “One of the key characteristics of the Design District is the varied architecture, so we created a set of symbols featuring each building.” Vanderkar tells us, “these are then used in 3D form on the masterplan where each of the buildings is distilled down to its simplest form using shape and material.” The masterplan, inspired by village noticeboards, can be seen at the main entrances to the district. Opting for a bold and unconventional route, DutchScot were grateful that there was faith in their ideas. “We were lucky in this instance that the Design District team really wanted to do something that felt unusual and fitting of a scheme where all the tenants are creative.”
DutchScot worked closely with Standard8, who specialise in creating signage for exhibitions and wayfinding on the technical side of production. When realising the 3D forms of the masterplan, Vanderkar notes that “each building had to be formed into a small model using a different material.” In most cases, it was possible to use the same material that the building itself is made from. Vanderkar describes that, in some cases, technical problems required new solutions, and a change in material. For example, “the terrazzo became a coloured epoxy resin with shards of acrylic and aluminium.”
“Durability is another important factor,” he adds, recalling the development process. “We discovered it’s all well and good making something that will look good for a short period of time but it’s another kettle of fish making something that will last and survive the winds on Greenwich Peninsula!”