You’ve seen it everywhere but probably didn’t realize it had its own name. Environmental graphic design is graphic design for the built environment. This can include wayfinding, monuments, public art, and exhibition projects. A recent Eye magazine article investigates it. I became very curious about it too and got the chance to talk to some of the leading designers in this sliver of the graphic design diaspora.
Lonny Israel leads the Environmental Graphic Design studio at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). He is an Associate Director in SOM’s San Francisco office and on the Board of Directors of the Society of Environmental Graphic Design. He spoke with me recently about his work.
Eileen Hsu: As for your educational background, did you study graphic design?
Lonny Israel: Yes, I studied graphic design at the Kansas City Art Institute. I was hired by SOM after graduating and in the beginning of my career I was involved exclusively in print work, but over time, the assignments evolved and became more and more three-dimensional. I think this is often the path for design professionals in the environmental graphics field. When I was a student, there weren’t courses specifically focused on environmental graphics. And even now, very few environmental graphics courses exist. The Society for Environmental Graphic Design has put significant effort into developing education programs that are helping to support the field’s development and awareness.