Tag Archives: Architectural Signage

The Key Moment

We’ve all had them, and they’re always memorable.

The key moments, when something clicks, when everything falls into place. All of the moving parts suddenly look like they belong right where they are. For a design process to create that moment, it takes patience, persistence, and a passion for a solution.


All Innerface interior signs have a key, and that key transforms them from a collection of different signs into a system.  It makes them flexible and adaptable, capable of changing at any time. It allows them to respond to change quickly, simply and cost effectively. We have a solution. A core value of change, and a way to make it work.  In more than 48 years, we haven’t looked back, and our system is in more than 12,000 facilities across the country and around the world.


Before Innerface started making signs, we were a design firm: Rupert Jensen Associates. 

Almost fifty years ago, the principals of RJA Design, John Rupert and Ken Jensen, spent a year of Saturdays thinking about change.  They met weekly with a variety of users and students from Georgia Tech’s school of Industrial Design.  They asked questions: How much do signs need to change? How often?   What is the simplest, most effective way to change them?


Therefore, cost became a focus.  Unlike anything at the time, every state-of-the-art interior sign was silk screened, with each message created individually. Signs were burnished, burned, and printed, and essentially created from scratch.  It was a very expensive and cumbersome process, and it produced a sign with a permanent, unchangeable message.


Multiply that sign by hundreds of rooms in the average hospital or office building, and obviously it becomes a significant cost.  Not just when the building opens, but also when someone moves or a department changes. What about someone getting married, promoted, or even fired?  The sign needed to be replaced, with the same costs as when it went up the first time, and with the same amount of needed materials.


The discussion pointed to an idea: What if the signs and the messages were separate? What if you could change the message without replacing the sign?

That was the problem and there was a place for a solution.

Clearly, the message needed to be somehow removable and a separate component from the rest of the sign.  An insert was needed, with a pocket to hold it, and a way to change it. It needed to be the least costly part of the sign. The first inserts were paper, and they kept getting stuck.  Maybe a thumb hole?  No, too crude and obvious.  The sign needed to look permanent without revealing that it could be changed.  And paper looks like, well, paper.  Temporary.


Furthermore, they needed a key.  A way to unlock changeability, a method for change, of everything from a small room sign to a large and complex directory or directional sign.  A successful system solution is flexible enough to address all interior sign applications, and the key enabled the system to work.


We tested dozens of different materials before finding a substrate with the right combination of rigidity and thickness.  With a crescent shaped cut, and a bend in the tab, it became a cleat: something that could lock into a slot in the insert, and remove it from the sign. 


Words can’t really do the justice to the elegance of our patented insert key system.

Matt Brown
Matt Brown

Send your address to Matt Brown our Vice President of Design Services, and we’ll send you a personal desktop sign with your name and a key, so you can see for yourself.

Celebrating Anniversaries

INNERFACE is so proud to have so many long standing members of our team. In today’s high turnover environment, it is rare for a company to be able to celebrate as often as we do the experience and longevity of their team. This week we recognized four of these amazing individuals as they celebrate milestone anniversaries with INNERFACE.
Congratulations to:

  • Michael McWilliams – 20 years
  • Hai Nguyen – 15 Years
  • Kimberley McDaniel – 10 Years
  • Megan Dolan – 5 Years

And a big shout out and thank you to the INNERFACE team working together to make every project a success!

What does your Design say?

First Impressions

It is no secret in healthcare that a first time visit for a patient can be scary. Be it a toddler coming in for a first check-up or a cancer patient receiving their third round of chemo, there is a lot to think about when you first walk in.  Often the décor isn’t the first thing on a patient’s mind, however, it can be the thing that help puts their mind at ease.

In recent years, the effects of the physical environment on the healing process and wellbeing have proven to be increasingly relevant for patients and their families. The focus has changed from traditional and institutionally designed healthcare facilities to the actual mental well being of patients as an indicator of their health and recovery. There are many reviews and investigations on how “evidence-based health care design” can affect patients, families and health care staff. Everything from color pallets to lighting, and even imagery is taken into account when considering how it can be used to put patients and families at ease, and help in their healing process.

Designing for Healing

A visiting professor at the “Center for Healthcare Architecture” at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, Roger Ulrich, has been the thought leader on “evidenced based health care design” for over 30 years.  In 1984, Ulrich wrote an influential paper which significantly impacted how hospitals are designed today. In his paper, Ulrich compared two sets of patients; one had a view of trees from their recovery room, the other had a view of walls. Using clinical data he showed that the patient with tree views had a shorter hospital stay and fewer negative evaluations from nurses. This patient also took fewer moderate-to-strong pain killers and had slightly lower scores for post-surgery complications.

It’s amazing what the natural world can do for one’s outlook. But what do you do if you can’t bring the outdoors in?

Bring the Outdoors In

Integrating natural elements with your interior design doesn’t have to be expensive or get in the way of those caring for patients. They can be added in subtle ways such as door signs, decorative panels or murals. INNERFACE’s new Lucid and Impact product lines can provide just this sort of natural, customized touch. Using direct print technology, we bring full color images to signage, wayfinding and design elements. Choose from local natural scenes that alongside natural style lighting and calming interior design can promote health and peace of mind for patients and their families.

Whether there for a first check-up or lifesaving surgery, natural elements and calming imagery can reduce stress and contribute to patient healing and wellness.  


Healthcare Wayfinding, Healthcare Digital Signage

Introducing Lucid

Introducing Lucid. Using state of the art technology, we can direct print vibrant, full color graphics directly to almost any substrate. Through their visual impact, these full-color wayfinding and identification signs enhance the environment and the user experience. Our experiential graphic design team can integrate appropriate brand or other visual elements to assist with wayfinding, area identification and land marking.

A variety of available shapes and standard sizes makes development of a complete sign family quick and easy. All Lucid signage can incorporate ADA raised characters/Braille along with an insert to ease maintenance and reduce costs of message changes.

Lucid – bringing your wayfinding to life


Innerface Lucid Signage, Religious Wayfinding

Partnership with Third Rail Studios

Third Rail Studios opened their doors in Atlanta, GA in September of 2016 to the creative industry. The first phase of their construction was an adaptive reuse of an existing 130,000 square foot historic GM building to accommodate sound stages, production support, mill space, on site production vendor spaces and up to 30 acres of paved back lot.

With a campus this impressive, it is important to represent the new Third Rail Studios brand well. INNERFACE is proud to be a part of the launch of Third Rail Studios in Atlanta. We have worked with their team on both interior and exterior signage applications to improve the visibility of their brand.

Rebranding for New Partnership

The coming together of two hospitals can mean amazing things for a community. For Henry Ford Health System and Allegiance Health this is exactly the intent. As Allegiance Health becomes a part of Henry Ford Health System they plan to invest in improved patient care and improvements in processes.  Over the next five years Henry Ford Health System will make upgrades to the Allegiance facilities which include electronic records, ambulatory updates, and new outpatient services. INNERFACE is proud to be a part of this transition by supporting signage and wayfinding changes related to Allegiance becoming a part of the Henry Ford Health System.

INNERFACE has a longstanding partnership with the Henry Ford Health System.  Over the years we have partnered with their team to design branded exterior signage/wayfinding standards and implement a consistent Henry Ford brand and image across multiple campus environments.  We look forward to working with the Henry Ford Health System team to apply their brand to Allegiance Health locations resulting in a consistent experience for future patients and visitors.

How Friendly is Your Campus?

Community Author: Hannah Day
Due to a family emergency I found myself spending a lot of time in an aging hospital waiting room. I won’t soon forget the moment of panic as my fiancé and I first pulled into the hospital parking garage and were suddenly unable to locate the elevator that would take us to the emergency room. We had seen the sign for the main emergency entrance only moments before when pulling into the hospital campus, but that was four floors down. Once inside, the directional signs in the hospital didn’t offer much assistance. In a moment of crisis when we should have been supporting our family, we argued as to which way the sign was telling us to turn.

When navigating a high-stress environment, it is important for information be presented clearly and consistently. This is where a carefully planned and executed wayfinding system comes into play. Making sure that your wayfinding and identification system is not only attractive but functional is a must for healthcare environments.

What Have You Not Thought Of?

If you work in a hospital, you know that place like the back of your hand. Most often if you see a confused couple arguing about the direction they should take you’d be able to set them on the right path verbally. This information, however, should be presented to patients and visitors clearly and consistently without having to take up the valuable time of you or your staff.

Stop and ask yourself; what seems obvious to me but I continually find myself explaining to patients and visitors? The list may be as short as “which elevator should I take to visit the maternity ward” or it could be as serious as a visitor using the wrong entrance unable to locate a family member who is in the emergency room.

If you find that there are directional and identification challenges you often have to commit hours each month to verbally clear up, you might benefit from having an experiential designer survey your campus and provide a Wayfinding audit. These services can help you identify a first time patient or visitor’s frustrations related to finding their way. A survey of your campus can also identify and help to address other issues you might not have thought about, like making sure signs are ADA compliant, or that fire and emergency exits are clearly marked and visible from a distance.

What’s Next?

You may realize while reading the information presented here that your campus needs a wayfinding tune-up. Perhaps you aren’t sure that your signs are update with ADA or other code compliance issues. If you have any of these questions, you may be wondering what is next? Thankfully, most wayfinding and identification challenges can be addressed by working with an Experiential Graphic Designer. At INNERFACE, we pride ourselves in offering clients expertise in wayfinding and design. Get in touch today to learn more about how to make your campus a friendlier environment that best represents your brand.


University Digital Signage, University Signage

Pulling Off The Band-aid

Wayfinding for Children’s Hopsital in East Tennessee

I was recently listening to a popular weekly podcast called “This American Life”. The topic being covered was “How to Talk to Kids”. This is a challenge we all can probably all appreciate in some way, and personally I can say that having been a parent now for 22 years, I’m still learning how!

INNERFACE works with a lot of hospitals and healthcare facilities, each facility will have patients from a variety of circumstances, but, all of these organizations exist for one primary reason: to help and care for others. We take pride in the opportunity to be part of that effort, and believe our participation makes a relatively small but significant difference for patients and their loved ones.

Hospitals can be scary places. They’re scary because, among other things, patients and visitors are no longer in control. They entrust their health and well-being, or that of a loved one, to unfamiliar people and places. They surrender a lot of self-control and are frequently powerless in many ways, so the care they receive needs to be based on a sense of trust. This is a trust of both the intent and the ability of the care facility, and those who work there, to promote healing.

03As scary as hospitals can be for adults, the fear that children must feel in a hospital is potentially much deeper and more dramatic. The unfamiliarity that adults feel in a hospital is multiplied by the necessary separation that children experience from those who normally care for them. They not only are away from their familiar routines, they’re frequently away from the people who usually nurture and ensure their comfort.

But kids are no fools. One thing I’ve learned about children is that it’s really easy to underestimate them, to lose sight of their abundant intelligence and insight. They are not unaware, in fact, they’re frequently more aware of their circumstances than many adults. And in a healthcare environment, it’s important to acknowledge and encourage their awareness.


I07NNERFACE has completed a signage and wayfinding project for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. As a part of the design and development process, we had open discussions about the care process and culture. These conversations brought out ideas that reflected the common beliefs and values among staff and physicians. Patient empowerment was one of the common threads, and the consensus was strong: children need to know that they can trust their care, and in part, that means trusting their surroundings. Turning the hospital into a circus would give them the wrong message, kids know the difference. Artwork was chosen to support this; the emphasis is on craft and materials that the children themselves had chosen.


Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital reached out to local artists in the process of this wayfinding mission. The community got involved to a degree that was unparalleled. It was all about the region, and the vision of a healing environment.

These efforts meant making a complex environment easier to understand, for both children and adults, and that is part of the right message. The wayfinding program at Le Bonheur Children’s pays attention to clarity and simplicity, and has consistent, clear messages throughout. There are no clowns, circus tents, or purposeless ornaments in the program- it supports and reflects the aesthetic and architectural context of the hospital. We’re proud of what we’ve done for the hospital, and look forward to being a part of its evolution over the next several years.

“I hate Signs”

In the more than 45 years we’ve been in business, we often hear the phrase “I hate signs” when we first meet customers. And there’s a reason for it: they’ve never worked with an effective wayfinding and identification system. Signage in a complex public space is a system just like any other, and just like any other system, it’s only as good as the sum of its parts. When the parts don’t work, the system breaks down and the signs become a problem.

INNERFACE has had the privilege of working with over 1000 hospitals in the US and abroad, and by far hospitals are the most complex public environments in any community. Users of hospitals are typically there for one of two reasons:
They need care, or someone they know does.

With high levels of stress, patients and visitors have limited abilities to understand their environment and retain information. Also, differences in language, terminology and culture add a layer of complexity to the needs of patients and visitors finding their way. The wayfinding and identification system must be clear and effective, and has to continually adapt to dynamic care environments. If it isn’t, patients and visitors suffer, and facility leadership hear about it.

We work to resolve all of these challenges as we develop comprehensive wayfinding and identification systems for clients. The experiential graphic solutions we provide are designed to last and to be cost-effective not only when they’re installed, but also for many years of use. We call it “cost intelligence”, and it means that every system we design and implement is flexible, simple, and changeable, without compromising aesthetics. Our graphic standards and online order system make it easy for clients to ensure that wayfinding stays up to date and an effective tool for patients, visitors and staff.

Our customers know that our commitment doesn’t stop once signs are installed. Implementation is just the beginning of a long-term wayfinding strategy. Through continuous support, our goal is to keep wayfinding systems working and looking as good as it did the day they are installed.


Healthcare Digital Signage, Healthcare Wayfinding