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With good wishes for the holiday season. Have a peaceful and healthy 2022!

Our review of 2021

What a challenging year for us all! It seems every time we think we might be seeing light at the end of the pandemic tunnel we get another curve ball (hello Omicron!). It’s been two steps forward and one step back for most of us in 2021. Never has resilience been more necessary in both our personal and professional lives.

The Sign Design Society is weathering the storm relatively well. Our monthly lunchtime and evening online talks, hosted by Colette Jeffrey have had more international audiences than ever before, with speakers from across the world. We have fascinating talks about wayfinding in Denmark and Moscow lined up for early 2022. We’re always interested to hear about inclusive, impactful, or innovative design projects that you’ve been working on, and if there’s someone you’d like to hear talk, please let us know.

Over the past year, the best designers, researchers, thinkers and writers with international reputations and wayfinding design knowledge have let us into their fascinating worlds. Paul Mijksenaar joined us from Amsterdam to talk about the importance of colour. David Gibson joined us from Rome and talked about his wayfinding work in America. Mark Janetzki in Australia talked about at Diadem’s work and Michaela and Mads in Denmark shared ideas from Urgent.Agency. Erik Spiekermann in America spoke about his letterpress studio in Berlin whilst Pip Hall shared her world of stone letter carving from her studio in North Yorkshire. We also had engaging research-based talks from Andrew Haig, Robert Harland, and Roger Hackett. Two iconic designers were brought to life by their families – MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill’s great-niece Caroline Walker, and Abram Games’ daughter Naomi Games. We have the Abram Games’ archive tour in London booked for SDS members on 10 February 2022.

After the crazy year we have all had, getting outdoors regularly and maintaining good mental health is essential. Sarah Harraway’s talk on design for wellbeing and Tristram Gooley’s talk on appreciating and observing nature for navigation were thought-provoking. And finally in 2021, our December talk from Michael Hornberger was about navigation with Alzheimer’s disease and what designers can do to help people stay active, how we can create inclusive wayfinding systems, and the importance of built environments everyone can navigate. We are looking forward to many more inspiring monthly talks throughout 2022. And we are hoping some talks can be in-person, so please let us know if you have a venue we can use to host an in-person event.

Alongside the talks, our monthly newsletters have featured a wide range of topics in 2021 including articles on sustainable design, inclusive design, and behaviour-changing design. They’ve covered urban graphic objects and house numbering. They’ve also looked at projects researching the challenges for information design in public transport and using mental maps for environmental identity and orientation, and the dark side of pictograms. More interesting, inspiring, and thought-provoking articles will be coming to your inbox in 2022. If you have an idea for an article for our newsletter, please get in touch – even if the idea is still a bit vague or you’re not sure about writing it yourself, we can help to give it form.

In the current climate of uncertainty, your Society remains active, vigorous and enthusiastic. We provide relevant engagement and support for people with an interest in the world of signs, maps, wayfinding, human navigation behaviour and environmental graphics. Our administrator Kate continues to support the Society with aplomb, acting as the first point of contact. Andrew and Colette, our co-Chairs will continue to coordinate SDS activities, and we look forward to actually meeting members in-person soon. Our Steering Group continues to steer the society, finding ways to navigate the perplexing waters of this pandemic world. If you would like to join the group, we would love to hear from you.

Have a peaceful and healthy 2022.