Since 2018, Murdoch University has held an annual end of year exhibition which showcases the work of the creative arts students from the past year. 2019’s exhibition, entitled “What’s In Store”, was put together by the GRD310 class who over the course of the semester planned, prepared and coordinated all the different elements required to bring together a successful and memorable exhibition. The showcase took place on the 4th of December 2019 at the Murdoch University Student Hub and featured the work of students across 8 different disciplines: theatre arts, photography, games art and design, graphic design, sound, screen arts, strategic communications and creative writing.

Putting on the What’s In Store Murdoch Open Showcase required the creating and implementing a brand and identity, touchpoint system, wayfinding, advertising and promotional campaign, and the final exhibition install. As a primary member of the wayfinding team, I mainly worked on developing a comprehensive wayfinding system to get people to and around the exhibition, but the exhibition being a service design project meant that I also assisted other class members with various aspects of the exhibition.

People working on laptops around a large sheet of paper with mind maps on it.People giving an informal presentation to large group around table.People mind mapping on a large sheet of paper.People setting up pictures and research on a large table.People giving an informal presentation to large group around table.

To stay on track and co-design together on this project, the GRD310 class had weekly meetings, during which ideas were exchanged, problems discussed, and important decisions were made. We also met up with our teams (explained in the next paragraph) separately on top of these weekly meetings to work on the project.

The project began with research and investigation. We worked together to decide on a theme, establish the project goals, identify the stakeholders and key stakholder groups, and determine possible challenges and problems which could occur during the project. We then identified the various aspects of the exhibition which would need our attention and divided ourselves up into following corresponding teams: branding, spatial design, wayfinding, photography, illustration, publication and poster design, social media and web design.

In our teams, we then prepared for a stakeholder presentation, during which we could inform the heads of discipline of our plans and ideas, get them on board for the project, and get feedback from them. This required us to do research into our particular area (eg. wayfinding) and develop some preliminary concepts to show the stakeholders. Following the presentation we kept in constant communication with the stakeholders, keeping them up to date on our progress, what we would need from them, and getting their input.

Map of Murdoch University with routes overlaid digitally.Map of Murdoch University with routes annotated.Pictures and research pinned to wall.Someone working on a map using a laptop.People working on constructing a light up sign.

The wayfinding team was essentially in charge of, firstly, helping people get to the event, and secondly, helping them find their way around the Student Hub once they were at the event. In order to to this, we began with research and investigation into innovative wayfinding systems and also the wayfinding systems in malls and shopping centres, as the theme for the showcase was designed to be a ‘shopping-like’ one (hence the name “What’s In Store”.

We then began work on how to get people to the event. Using a screenshot from Google Maps, we firstly determined which carparks we should advise attendees to use, and from these carparks worked out the quickest and and most straight forward routes to the Student Hub. We then worked out exactly where signage would be needed to direct people from the carpark to the Hub. Taking into consideration people’s most likely paths from the carpark we plotted points on the map for where we thought signs should go before actually going out into the campus and carparks to determine not only exactly where the signs could be positioned so that they were both easily visible and in safe places. The map then underwent a series of iterations where we adjusted the routes and exact sign positioning, taking into account the changes we noted from physically going out on campus and the limit we had on the number of signs we were able to acquire.

The next stage was providing adequate wayfinding at the Student Hub so that people could find their way around the exhibition. Working with the spatial design team, we got a basic layout for the event. Using this and the research and planning we had done earlier for the sorts of signs to use, we created a draft for where we would arrange the signs. After ‘scoping out’ the exhibition space in real life however, we realiseda number of issues (such as where we had planned to place signage), and so our design went through a number of changes. As the project progress, there were a number of changes to the exhibition layout we we had to change our design for accordingly.

The next stage was designing the signs and testing. Over a series of different concepts and iterations we created a wayfinding system for the exhibition consisting of A-frame signs (which were placed around the campus leading to the exhibition), “monolith” signs (which were designed to look like the tall free-standing signs often seen by escalators in shopping centres) and the “hanging” signs (which were designed to look like the landscape signs seen hanging from the ceiling at large stores.

The testing consisted of going to the actual exhibition space and measuring the spaces where we had planned to put the signs, ensure that none would be hanging too low that they would be in people’s way, and that we would actually be able to hang up/stick the signs in the places we had planned. We then had to lock in our final decisions for what signs would be placed where so that we could individually create the signs accordingly.

Touchpoint for the 8 disciplines, featuring a photograph, album cover, movie ticket, sticker, bookmark, notepad, chatterbox and event programme.Flyer invitation.Gift card invitations.

For this project, as a class we developed a touchpoint system which would help to promote the event. This consisted of invitations, flyers, posters, and a ‘gift bag’ containing ‘souvenir’ touchpoints representing each of the 8 disciplines which would be and be be freely available at the exhibition.

While I was mostly working on the wayfinding for the exhibition, I did also assist with some of the touchpoint elements. Early in the project, we had the idea of including some sort of ‘token’ with the invitation which attendees could bring along to redeem their free gift bag. I created the concept for a credit card token which fit the shopping theme of the exhibition. In the end this idea was discarded so that people would not need to worry about bringing anything with them to the exhibition. However, the credit card concept was partially preserved through the final design of the actual invitation itself, which was a gift card.

As part of the wayfinding team, I also helped develop the map which was used on the promotional flyer (click the images above to see this). While the map that was printed on the flyer was actually only the second draft and not the final copy due to poor inter-team communication, we had luckily designed the map well enough at that point that it still worked. I also helped to design 2 of the 8 gift bag touchpoints. I designed the sticker which represented graphic design (seen above) and did some concepts for the movie ticket which represented screen art (click the images above to view).

The last stage of this project was putting everything together. using all the planning, layouts and maps we had made, we got everything set up for the exhibition. The main issue the wayfinding team encountered was putting up the hanging signs, which we ran out of time to do due to having significantly less help setting up on the day than expected. However, we had designed the wayfinding system in such a way that there were enough of the “monolith” signs in nearby places that people were still able to easily find where to go.