Wayfinding Signs and Environmental Graphic Design

John Hornsby brings 25+ years of expertise in experiential signage and branding, leading teams with a focus on human-centered experiences in environmental graphic design. His innovative approach, blending artistry and functionality, has transformed spaces into engaging, navigable experiences. As a leader and advocate for community and design, John's work is at the intersection of creativity and practicality, setting Hornsby Creative Group apart in crafting inspiring, wayfinding solutions.


Environmental graphic applied to elevator door featuring a Black college graduate u a celebratory stance holding a diploma and inspirational quote

The Gateway to Craft an Experience.

Wayfinding and Environmental design sit at the crossroads of innovation and tradition. This intersection is marked by the fusion of environmental graphic design, finishes, and placemaking. Here we find ourselves on more than just a path; it’s the gateway to craft an iconic experience.

Picture a bustling college campus or a thriving municipality, a place buzzing with activity and brimming with stories. As these spaces evolve, the challenge of maintaining a seamless and welcoming environment becomes increasingly crucial. This is where the transformative power of environmental graphic design (EGD) comes into play, guiding, informing, and enriching every step of the journey.

The Pulse of Places: Environmental Graphic Design

Imagine strolling through a neighborhood that, despite its rich history, has been overlooked for decades. The segregated urban landscape of East Liberty in Pittsburgh serves as a compelling case study demonstrating the profound impact of EGD. Once a neighborhood marred by neglect and failed renewal efforts, East Liberty underwent a transformation through thoughtful design elements aiming to improve perceptions and foster community connectivity. This approach led to a significant enhancement in the area’s image, enticing more people to visit and engage with the local milieu. (Source SEGD)

EGD is not just about creating signs or maps; it’s about crafting a language that buildings and spaces speak to their inhabitants and visitors. It’s the subtle cues, the public art, and the unique identifiers that collectively shape the environmental image of a place. These elements work in harmony to evoke a sense of home and emotional security, crucial for creating welcoming campuses, counties and cities.

Creating Connections: The Role of Finishes and Design

Environmental graphic design and wayfinding are more than functional elements; they are pathways that weave through the fabric of a community, creating connections and fostering a sense of belonging. They are about breaking down barriers, both physical and perceptual, and inviting people to explore and appreciate the uniqueness of their surroundings. 

In essence, the integration of environmental graphic design, finishes, and wayfinding is not just about guiding people from point A to point B. It’s about crafting stories, fostering connections, and creating environments that resonate with the heart and soul of a community. As municipalities and campus-based organizations look to instill trust and showcase their commitment to thoughtful design, embracing these elements becomes not just an option, but a necessity for crafting spaces that are not only functional but also inspirational.

Guiding the Path: Wayfinding in Education

When Emory & Henry College embarked on renovating their new Student Success Center, they understood the functional and emotional dimensions of wayfinding. By collaborating with Hornsby Creative, we didn’t just design a path; we sculpted an experience. Beyond functional signs, we integrated bold graphics and inspirational quotes, wrapping directional arrows around stairwells and transforming elevator doors into showcases of student achievements. This project wasn’t just about helping students find a room; it was also about inspiring them on every step towards success, ensuring the environment was a continual encouragement, thoughtfully aligned with the college’s ethos and brand standards.

Wayfinding Design and Guidelines for Municipalities

For municipalities considering county wayfinding sign programs, the journey includes developing comprehensive Wayfinding Guidelines. This framework includes Basic Wayfinding Design, Destination Prioritization, and understating a typical Project Schedule. These guidelines ensure that every sign, from its shape and color to its placement and message, contributes to a coherent and effective system. Working alongside traffic engineering firms like JM Teague Engineering & Planning, we can delve into the nuances of Sign Types, Shapes, Colors, and Supports, ensuring that every element aligns with both aesthetic desires and regulatory requirements. By prioritizing destinations and understanding the qualifications for wayfinding, we help create environments that are not just navigable but also inviting and reflective of the community’s character.

Navigating Mixed-Use Campuses: Case Studies in Collaborative Innovation

Citizens Fuel Brand Strategy:

In a complex branding challenge, we collaborated with Laura Hudson Architecture to assist Citizens Fuel. With multiple brands under their umbrella, including Biltmore Oil and Eblen Short Stops, and a series of Dunkin’ locations, the task was to create a cohesive brand identity.

Hornsby Creative’s solution was the development of the CITIZENS brand, symbolizing the family of brands and their community commitment. This clarity in brand identity led to the successful branding of their new office space, with strategic wall, window graphics, and signage reflecting this unified identity.

We then applied this strategy and identity to a new website design as well. This included art directing architectural photography of various sites.

Design rendering of a branded environmentl shows a lobby with wall stripping and window graphics

Radview Building in Asheville’s River Arts District:

Another project with Laura Hudson Architecture involved the Radview building, where we designed tenant signage and a directory system. Our work extended to Radworks, a unique shared office suite space within Radview.

We crafted brand identity, signage, and interior conference room window treatments, creating a distinct yet harmonious visual language that echoed the innovative spirit of the River Arts district. Read more about our work with their tenant Embrace the Space Between.

Exterior photo of a mixed use office and retail development Radview, located in Asheville's River Arts disctrict. It features a brick facade with modern lighting, fabricated letters, and illuminated signage.

Why Architects Recommend Us

I worked with John on a local project with an incredibly tight deadline and to add to the schedule he had to deal with the local historical agencies. John hustled the manufacturing and installation of a signage package that met our deadlines and within budget. He offered creative ideas for the design and went beyond our expectations - John is a true professional that understands service and delivers!
headshot of Kenneth Hart
Kenneth Hart
Premier architect

Uniquely Qualified to Guide the Way

Our founder John Hornsby’s 25 years of servant leadership in creative design and production fields, with a strong focus on experiential signage and branding, is a testament to his dedication to bridging the gap between creatives and businesses. His commitment to community and business intersection, along with a knack for delivering high-level design under complex schedules, underscores his unique approach to environmental graphic design and wayfinding, setting Hornsby Creative Group apart as a local leader in the industry. Scroll down to schedule a free consult today to learn more about our capabilities and explore collaboration.

Wayfinding Signs and Environmental Graphic Design

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