“Finding our way and getting lost is part of life”: The exhibition highlighting the magic – or madness – of wayfinding design

I’m sure Barrett isn’t speaking only for herself; Eley agrees that it seems like everyone has pictures on their phones of signs they’ve spotted, which the team wanted to get out of camera rolls and onto walls for everyone to see, taking a democratic approach to typical exhibition curation and encapsulating the meaning of ‘public art.’
Zoë Barrett, the wayfinding director at dn&co (and the award for coolest job title goes to…) adds, “Without even realising, wayfinding can enhance or ruin your experience of a place — whether on a trip to the doctor, visiting an overwhelming museum, or starting your holiday at an airport.” Barret and her team claim that they have a passion for the design of the wayfinding discipline. They’ve worked for clients like the V&A, Museum of the Home and the European Parliament, to name but a few. But Barret says this doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of the team’s “love of all things signage”. With It’s A Sign! dn&co hopes to extend the appreciation for the good, the bad and the ugly beyond its four walls. “I can’t be the only one with a plethora of toilet signs on my phone!”
“Finding our way and getting lost is part of life,” sums up Eley, “but as the world opens up and we start to explore our cities again, how do we know where to go and what we’ll find when we get there?”
The exhibition will be on display for free during the final days of the London Design Festival at the Ground Floor Space in Bermondsey from 24-26 September. An exhibition catalogue will be available to purchase, with proceeds going to dn&co’s long standing charity partner, Manna Society, helping the homeless of Southwark.
Although humans love to categorise, dn&co deliberately went against typology with It’s A Sign. It let chance dictate the layout: “We wanted visitors to enjoy the unexpected juxtapositions of the display,” says Eley. “From the sublime to the ridiculous and prudish to risqué, hand-written signs sit next to road markings next to formal notices next to shop signs and the new context reveals things that make you smile, laugh and double-take.”