2011 review and 2012 preview: a move from the transient to the permanent for sign-making?
What do you think?
POST A COMMENT
By Morwenna Kearns
16 December 2011
Waymarkers for the Durham Heritage Coast, designed by Gordon Meredith of PLB and with artistic interpretation from Jac Howard, were among the more permanent display projects of 2011
On the UK signage industry calendar, Sign and Digital UK is usually the main date, with manufacturers and suppliers showcasing their wares to a valuable audience. It was an important event for in 2011 as it was our debut as exhibitors, but it also served as a microcosm for the signage industry. Just like in the outside world, the more established sign-making processes rubbed shoulders with modern competitors from the wide-format print and digital signage sectors, but in many cases held their own. Photocast Products, for instance, won the Best Multiple Sign Project prize in the inaugural Sign and Digital UK awards for a project featuring its chemically etched plaques.
Most of the signage projects of the year for me were the hands-on, more tangible side of sign-making cannily combined with printed and digital displays. Finding myself in Tokyo a matter of days after Sign and Digital, I was especially impressed by the colourful plastic models of cartoon characters flanking digital screens showing related advertising content. In this vein, signs with incorporated NFC chips, such as the estate agent boards launched by Kremer Signs, have grown in popularity this year, a trend expected to continue into 2012. Another link with the internet, QR codes, are likely to remain a familiar sight, but may well be edged out by NFC as smartphones become ever more fast and ubiquitous.
One of the benefits of NFC is that the content sent to the user's phone can be changed and updated, therefore giving a static sign a longer life and increasing its environmental credentials in the face of digital signage and its green claims. The shift towards greener practices and materials has continued this year and is certainly expected to be firmly in the industry mainstream in years to come, despite signage companies and customers alike still looking for the cheaper options. Indeed, Sign and Digital UK 2012 will include a Green Trail to highlight sustainable products, an initiative conceived two years ago but postponed due to a general prioritisation of cost over the environment by the industry. The move suggests the two approaches are moving closer to going hand in hand.
There were several 'green' stories in 2011, such as the very effective use of Dufaylite Ultra Board, a honeycombed cardboard substrate comprised of 80 percent recycled material, by V2 Display Solutions for a campaign for Audi as well as in other applications. Closed-loop sustainability was also a priority for companies including Hudson Signs and Pyramid Display Materials, who launched recycling schemes for their customers. Environmental initiatives even took to the skies when TripleO and easyJet tested nano technology-based coating on the exterior branding of aeroplanes, designed to reduce drag and therefore increase efficiency.
Another area we've championed over the past year – and one we hope will grow in importance in 2012 – is education and training. Signage companies such as Fastsigns Gloucester have taken on apprentices, while sign-making students from the Roland Academy at Walsall College impressed WorldSkills London 2011 visitors including David Cameron with their vehicle-wrapping talents. Proskills has continued its campaign to support young people in the industry with its promotion of Vocational Qualifications Day in June and Proskills Scotland's first ever Apprenticeship Week in September. Health and safety training was on the curriculum for many including the BSGA's director David Catanach, who collected a certificate in using boom and scissor lifts safely from Lavendon Access Services (now Nationwide Platforms).
While there has been a shift to digital in many areas – the exit of Sanyo from its famous location at Piccadilly Circus, making way for a digital screen, comes to mind – my favourite signs of 2011 have been the strikingly traditional projects. The black fingerpost signs which sprang up near my home in Birmingham to direct walkers, the imposing concrete and wood waymarkers built by Rivermeade Signs for the Durham Heritage Coast paths, and metal destination markers made by Sign Industries to guide those traversing the Scottish countryside all proved that informational signage doesn't have to be up to the minute and easily updated. Often the best product is one that is solidly and defiantly permanent, one that is in keeping with its environment as much as it is informative, now and in years to come. I, for one, hope that 2012 brings more permanence and security to an industry rocked with uncertainty over the past few years.
Comments in chronological order (Total 0 comments)
There are no comments yet for this article.