Environmental Graphic Design

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Sculptural artistic bike rack with large metal bikes in pink, blue and black colors with brick wall in the background

What is Environmental Graphic Design?

Environmental graphic design, or EGD, is a multidisciplinary field of design in which the disciplines of graphic design, architecture, art, lighting, landscape, and other fields are utilized as a way to enhance the user experience through the visual translation of ideas in the built environment.

Environmental Graphic Design is a collaborative and impactful discipline that combines creativity, information, and aesthetics to shape and enhance the way people experience physical environments. From strategically placed graphics to visually engaging signage, Environmental Graphics play a crucial in branding environments, guiding individuals, conveying information, and fostering a sense of place. Local history & developing culture provides inspiration for stories that bring physical spaces to life. Environmental graphics contain a blend of creativity and functionality by layering design elements that help with direction as much as they enhance the experience. The built environment is a canvas for engaging storytelling and seamless navigation, for a transformative environment that benefits the guests and our clients.

Environmental Graphic Design Projects

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Why are environmental graphics important?

Crafting a Visual Language

Start by evaluating the unique characteristics of each space, whether it is a bustling urban area or a serene natural setting. By carefully studying the site and its surroundings, we develop a deep understanding of how people interact with the environment and use this knowledge to craft visually impactful solutions that address their needs. In office buildings or healthcare projects environmental graphics play a supporting role to identification and directional signage that creates clarity and certainty for the guests. On the other hand retail and entertainment projects are intently focused on the guest experience. Public art, murals and interactive placemaking is used to create 'wow' moments that people are quick to share with their friends. Each graphic element plays a part in a guest experience that resonates with the local community and informs visitors.

Through the use of typography, color, graphics, and art we shape expressive environments that communicate their unique identity while enhancing the guest experience.

https://images.rsmdesign.com/Rodeo 39 in Stanton before the redevelopment started
https://images.rsmdesign.com/Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton CA exterior photograph of public mural, illuminated tenant sign, patio seating entrance and large folding doors in front.
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How are graphics used in architecture?

Integration and Strategic Placement

Seamless integration of environmental graphics into new or existing architectural contexts starts with collaboration between design consultants and stakeholders. A unified vision must be established so design teams can work together toward a common aesthetic. An essential aspect is the strategic placement of graphics and signage within a space. Meticulous studies of traffic patterns and key decision points using Kevin Lynch modeling will determine the optimal locations for impactful signage and graphics. Architectural graphics should provide clear and concise information at critical junctures, ensuring that individuals can navigate with confidence.

Types of Environmental Graphics

Wayfinding & Signage

Essential in any environment, signage contains branding, maps, symbols, color, and typography to orient the user to the surrounding area and inform their decision making.

Wayfinding Design Page

Art, Murals & Sculpture

These elements can be the main attraction or a small spark of delight for visitors to discover. Either way they play a role in how a place feels to the guests. It can have a functional undertone while displayed as an element for pure enjoyment.

Public Art & Murals

Interactive Experiences & Media

People can become a part of the brand by engaging in new ways. AR & VR have opened the doors to two way communication where the guest can tailor the experience to their preferences.

Digital Integration

Architectural Graphics

The integration of visual elements directly onto surfaces of buildings or structures. This could be large scale murals, patterns, or artwork that enhances the aesthetics and character of the space while providing visual cues for wayfinding.

Architectural Graphics

Public Installations

Public installations are creative works of art or design that aim to engage and captivate passersby, contributing to the cultural richness and aesthetic appeal of a community.

Public Installations

Exhibit Design

Creating immersive and engaging experiences for visitors in spaces like museums, galleries, trade shows, and other public venues.

Exhibit Design

Placemaking Design

Placemaking is the process of designing and transforming public spaces to enhance their quality, appeal, and functionality, fostering a sense of community and identity.

Placemaking Design

Furniture & Fixtures

Furniture and fixtures are integral components in creating immersive, branded, and user-centric experiences within a place. The integration of these elements contributes significantly to the overall success of an environmental graphic design strategy.

The goal is to help people connect with the unique sense of place

How do you translate brick and mortar into narratives that help people make meaningful and personal connections to a place? People, groups, or communities are the reason we build places so they must remain the primary focus. It all starts with human needs and designers use certainty, variety, and delight to satisfy human needs on multiple levels.


Maps, Arrows, Labels, Symbols

Certainty deciphers the environment for the user and primarily identifies uses, navigation, and directs traffic. One can let their guard down with the understanding of the environment and these elements of certainty provide assurance and comfort. All aspects of the wayfinding profile assist in creating certainty for the user.


Scale, Color, Pattern, Form

Variety keeps things interesting while providing a functional breakdown of the overall experience into smaller more intimate experiences. These varying areas denoted by differing elements, carry the same DNA origins, but help with the user’s cognitive mapping of an environment.


Sculpture, Art, Whimsy, Surprise

Delight is the fun part….it’s the colorful sculpture or mural or unexpected feature where people want to engage and experience on an emotional level. These landmark moments add to the wayfinding experience in subtle intuitive ways and typically inform the personality of the place through interpretation of various influences such as culture, community, history, and emotion.

EGD Project Examples


Runway Playa Vista

City of Dana Point

The Summit Bechtel Reserve

Noma Gateway

Topic Series

A Three Part Series on Environmental Graphic Design

Environmental Graphic Design cover graphics for article series with linework shapes in grid format with one large magenta triangle in the background.

Part 1: What's in a Name?

Part 2: Emotional Connections

Part 3: EGD can be Expressed in Many Ways

Environmental Graphic Design Markets

Our expertise lies in crafting compelling visual narratives that enhance brand identity, enrich visitor experiences, and seamlessly integrate with the built environment. With a focus on creating memorable spaces that captivate audiences and drive meaningful engagement environmental graphic design is expressed in varying ways depending on the type of project. 

Mixed-Use Environmental Graphics

Environmental graphic design is especially important in mixed-use projects to differentiate areas and the needs of each.

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Sports & Entertainment Graphics

Dynamic environmental graphics for sports and entertainment venues to enhance spectator experiences and promote engagement

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Civic Environmental Graphic Design

Vibrant environmental graphic design for cities and public places that enrich urban experiences and foster community engagement.

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School & University Design

Environmental graphic design for educational settings to enrich learning environments and elevate the student experience.

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Hospitality Environmental Graphics

Elevating the guest experience and enhancing the overall atmosphere of resorts and hotels.

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Healthcare Environmental Graphics

Healthcare-focused environmental graphic design that improves patient visits and contributes to healing environments.

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Residential Environmental Graphics

Environmental graphic design for all residential property types with the goal of elevating the overall ambiance of places people live.

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Public Market Graphics

Elevating the experience and contribute to the vibrancy of the marketplace through transformative graphics and expression of the surrounding area.

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Retail Environmental Graphic Design

Environmental graphics for retail spaces to enhance customer experiences and elevate brand engagement.

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Transportation Design

Transportation-focused environmental graphic design facilitates navigation and improves passenger experiences across various modes of transit.

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Cultural Environmental Graphics

Environmental graphic design that celebrates heritage, promotes inclusivity, and enriches community spaces.

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Parking Garage Graphics

Environmental graphic design for parking garages enhances the users first experience when arriving at a project and sets the tone for navigation throughout.

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Waterfront Environmental Graphics

Waterfront environmental graphic design amplifies the local characteristics and encourages discovery of the natural surroundings.

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Park Environmental Graphic Design

Environmental graphics for parks enhances the functionality of outdoor spaces, promotes community engagement and enjoyment of activity

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Sci-Tech + Life Science Graphics

Environmental graphic design for science and technology projects aim to facilitate learning, inspire innovation, and connect people.

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Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) enhances places by seamlessly integrating visual elements such as signage, wayfinding, and branding, improving navigation and creating cohesive, memorable experiences. Spaces become more navigable, aesthetically pleasing, and conducive to fostering a sense of identity and community.