Airport signs & wayfinding systems are guides to show visitors the way. From finding the toilets, gates, tranfsers or even the coffee corner, signs are needed to show the way. Airport signage design is not a easy task and creating a wayfinding system in a airport which will have to guide thousands of visitors takes a in-dept case study of the visual environment, travellers stream, detailed prints of the building and much more. In this photo showcase I’ve collected images of Airport Signage from cities all over the world, using the photo website flickr.
Düsseldorf Airport Signs
Airport Signage Design
When designing signage for a Airport or a other public building you have to take a good notice of the visual surroundings the signage will be placed in. The backgound colors of walls and windows, the amount daylight let in the building, the lighting and more environmental elements are important when designing signage for a aiport. In a visual crowed environment it is important that signage design stands out to its background, for a maximum effect. Use a color system with not to many variations and be consistant with the color usage. Think about using illumnated signs to enhanche the readability of the signage and always use mockups of the signs to test if the signage is working in the visual surroundings.
Color, typography design and use of pictograms
Design high contrast signs to ensure good readability and legibilty of the signage. Colors that work well are a dark background with a light colored text and pictograms. For example a black background with white illuminated lettering will ensure a high contrast which has a good readability from a distance. Other commen color combinations are a yellow background with black lettering. For typography use a sans type like FF Info by Erik Spiekermann or Frutiger by Adrian Frutiger. Use a font that have a high x-height which will increase the legibility of the signs. Use only one font in all visual communication levels of the airport signage. For international airports it is vital to use symbols to indicate the facilities in and around the airport, always strengthen the symbol with written text in the native language and perforably in English language. This will ensure that most of the visitors can read the signs.
Photo credit sabrinak
Typeface FF Info
Designed by Erik Spiekermann and Ole Schäfer, FF Info Collection offers a large variety in type weights and pictogram sets with a good legiblity suitable for airport signs.
Arrows are one of the most important design features of a wayfinding system for airports, with a pointing arrow you will be able to guide visitors to their destination. Choosing a arrow within a design can make or break the design, don’t over due the arrow but gently incorporate the arrow into the sign in balance with type. Recently I’ve released a arrow collection to use in a design. Download the 56 free arrows as a Illustrator vector file here.
Sign design using a grid
Always use a grid to design Signage & wayfinding systems in order to maintain balance and flexibility in the design. In a future article I will go in dept by explaining how to design signage using a grid.
Inspiration: Personal favourites
Below you will find a showcase of my personal 5 favourite airport signage designs. High contrast illuminated signs, using clear lettering.
Seattle Airport Signage
Singapore Terminal 3 airport signage
Copenhagen airport signage
Schiphol Amsterdam, Signage
Photo Courtesy: Martijn van Exel, visit his website Schaaltreinen.
Melbourne Australia, Airport Signage
Portland International Airport Signage
More Airport Signs Inspiration
Below a showcase of 19 more photos of airport signage design.
Frankfurt International Airport
Munich Airport Signage
Zürich airport signage
Warsaw Airport Signage
Singapore airport signage
Ataturk Airport — International Terminal
Oporto’s new airport signage
Zürich basic signage
Berlin, Schönefeld Airport signage
Newark International Airport
Paris — CDG Airport Terminal 2 Signage
Malaysia’s KLIA airport
Madrid Airport Signage
Thai airport signage
Dubai airport signage
Oaxaca City Airport
Incheon International Airport
Bengaluru International Airport Signage
Other information & related resources
Bureau Mijksenaar has been proven to be a world leader in airport signage design, Paul Mijksenaar has designed airport signs for John F. Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia, Sardinia’s Italy and Schiphol. His designs can be marked as clear high contrast signs. At Mijksenaars website you can find more detailed information about these projects.
- Personal tips and information about airport signage design by Paul Mijksenaar
- A case study by Jenny Reising at Signweb about Schiphol Airport signage.
- MetaDesign created the signage system for Dusseldorf Aiport, in this detailed PDF you can find various information about the design.
- A case study in comparing typefaces for airport signs by Robert Waller. This study combined three research methodologies to inform the choice of a typeface for signs at London’s Heathrow Airport, see this website for more information.
- FF Info by available via FontShop.
Next article will be a design tutorial how to design airport signage, stay updated for more free design articles, subscribe to the RSS feed.
Share your thoughts
I’m curious to know which of the above mentioned airport signage designs you like the best? Please leave a comment in the comment fields below. Thank you!