This week, visiting critic Samantha Perkins opened her exhibit Knowhere: How Behavior and Context Influence Navigation at the Cage Gallery in Alumni Hall here at Miami University. The exhibit represents the culmination of a year and a half’s worth of research into navigation behavior and design, and concludes one step towards completion of her MFA in graphic design.
The Knowhere exhibit seeks to point out how human behavior and environmental context aids in navigation decisions, in an effort to determine a better method of teaching wayfinding design to both students and potential clients. The exhibit uses elements of its venue inside of Alumni Hall to point out how spaces, color, lighting, and movement can all influence how we perceive and move through an area. In Knowhere, points become moments of learning, connected by lines of circulation, called attention to by extruded planes that question and clarify each point.
Using these tools of point, line and plane, Knowhere finds instances of learning within seemingly mundane surroundings. The uninteresting elevator lobby becomes a transitional space that cleanses the palette. The decision point at the end of a stairwell acts as a hub that allows orientation and redirection. The overlooked corridor that leads to hidden workspaces are all called to attention. The grandiose statue at the main entry transforms from something blocking a path into a reorientation tool and “meet me” location.
All of these elements connect together using paths that pull visitors through spaces by providing further insight into how these tools can help inform and lead, with the final destination rendering examples of how branding and wayfinding create a sense of place within an otherwise empty space. Along the walls of the main KNOWHERE installation, posters describe how architecture, human behavior, and branding ideas can add to seemingly subconscious wayfinding decision-making processes, backing up the ideas presented using real-world examples.
The concepts presented, and the methods of interaction that led visitors to this space should challenge students to look at their world in a different way, question how their own designs play this same game, and hopefully, help them find new ways to wayfind.