Tag Archives: Design+Build

What Is Architectural Signage?

Like most things in life, with exterior signage you typically get what you pay for. This means making a decision about the kind of signage you want representing your brand and thinking about long‐term value instead of short‐term cost. There are major differences in commercial vs architectural grade exterior signage. These differences in materials, fabrication methods and lighting components greatly impact cost, durability, maintenance and appearance.


From a hundred feet away, it is difficult to tell the difference between a similarly designed commercial and architectural sign. They can both be painted the same color, be the same size and have similar design features. It is when you get up close you can really tell the difference. The commercial sign will usually have exposed seams and fasteners (rivets, screw head, etc.) while the architectural sign will feature fully welded and seamless construction with minimal or no visible fasteners. These may seem like trivial issues for something that most folks will never see close up but they directly impact the longevity of the sign. Seams, misaligned panels and cheap fasteners lead to water penetration. This can cause premature lighting and other component failure leading to a much shorter product life‐cycle and greater replacement cost.


Not all exterior signage is created equal. One way that commercial fabricators save on cost is to fabricate their signs from a cheaply made frame and then skin them with the thinnest material possible.  While the use of a thinner panel material definitely saves cost, the result is a less rigid panel that does not create a flat sign surface. This uneven panel surface is called “oil canning” or elastic buckling and can be seen even at a distance in most light conditions.

Similar to a car finish where a $500 paint job will not compare to a professional high‐quality paint finish, the same is true of exterior signage finishes. We recommend using only Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane paints with proper paint prep and primers. While a cheap paint job on a commercial application may only last a few years before fading, chalking and running, a high‐quality finish will last up to a decade even in a harsh environment.


What happened to my message? We often see sign messages running, peeling or falling off of cheaply made signs. While you may save a few dollars using a low‐cost vinyl or just gluing on acrylic panels in lighted signs, the result will be a sign that needs constant maintenance and repair. We recommend using only the highest quality exterior vinyl and direct print applications. In addition, any acrylic panels on lighted signs should be both glued and stud mounted to the supporting panel to ensure there is no separation between the materials over time.


As part of our name, we take designing and building architectural signage seriously. Exterior signage is the first thing your clients see when they find you and last thing they see when they leave. Make sure your exterior signs represent your brand and, like your brand, are built to last. For more information on how INNERFACE builds architectural signage, check out the videos on our website or get in touch.

Why You Should Engage with a Signage & Wayfinding Partner Early in Project Development

Do you often have a Signage and Wayfinding Emergency?


Signage and Wayfinding Partners are often approached by new and existing clients with signage emergencies.  These are typically associated with a lack of early planning for signage and wayfinding elements, tied to construction and renovation projects. Signage and Wayfinding are often the last items on a project check list. While an effective signage and wayfinding program can be difficult to plan and painful to review, it is required to be in place before a new space can be occupied and will greatly impact the users of your new space and their perception of your brand.


How to avoid those Signage and Wayfinding Emergencies


In order to avoid those signage emergencies, partners encourage clients to engage in a signage and wayfinding program early in their planning process. An effective partner integrates with the project team and provides coordination for any project items that will be impacted. By development and implementation of an effective signage and wayfinding partner can:

  • Provide accurate initial and ongoing budgets
  • Research local codes related to interior and exterior signage
  • Assess permitting process and timing
  • Provide initial guidance for exterior signage placement that may require power or additional structural support
  • Best understand construction and implementation schedules and possible phasing needs
  • Ensure integration with interiors, artwork and landscaping
  • Avoid installation conflicts associated with construction changes
  • Collaborative and support the development of logical room numbering, terminology and wayfinding
  • Coordinate and support conceptual donor recognition plan development increasing donor engagement


Most importantly, an effective signage and wayfinding partner is held accountable for the entire development and implementation process. With an effective partner all points of contact, responsibility, and communication are streamlined and the number of errors and assumptions are greatly decreased.


By starting early, Innerface is able to dedicate the time and effort needed to make your project a success and improve the user experience in your new space. For more information on how INNERFACE experiential graphic design team and our local project managers can partner early on your projects and help you deliver a seamless signage and wayfinding process.


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  • For more information on how INNERFACE can help improve your wayfinding signage experience, please contact us.

Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta

Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta have been helping children and teenagers for over 75 years. Starting with just one club on Washington Street in 1938, they now have over 30 Clubs in the Metro Atlanta area. The club has been helping thousands of children and teenagers each day to reach their full potential through academic success, healthy lifestyles, character development and leadership programs.



Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta partnered with INNERFACE Architectural Signage to design and implement new interior, exterior custom signage and wayfinding elements for their new and existing facilities. The new signage and wayfinding design was driven to create a friendly and welcoming environment that reflects their brand and mission.


Interior Signage

The design and function was needed to work with children and teens for a dynamic learning environment in each classroom. Therefore, we designed and built a modular system to showcase their artwork.





For this application, we used a magnetic rail combined multiple frame sizes that can be arranged as needed. It can change quickly based on the day of the week or relevant activity.


For each classroom, we designed the frame and rail system with paper grips. This provided additional display opportunities and reduced the number of items taped to the walls. Other custom items included large format graphics, to further enhance the interior spaces and support their brand.


Exterior Signage

The new exterior signage was needed to welcome parents and kids, clearly identify and convey basic information related to the specific club’s operating hours. Each facility will have slightly different applications based on zoning and permitting limitations. We designed and built a consistent design that is correctly scaled and branded. Other design variations include internally illuminated and ground lit signage.







Our design and project management team will work closely with each Metro Atlanta location to research signage codes and ensure the best application of the new exterior design. From initial design discussion through permitting, fabrication and installation, our Design+Build approach makes projects easy to manage and guarantees success.


Future Plans


Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, will continue to expand with both new and renovated locations. We look forward to creating a long term partnership that will help them develop and maintain their environments. that are innovative, cost effective and best support their mission of academic success, healthy lifestyles, character development and leadership.


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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.

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.

Healthcare WayfindingWhether 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 SignageInnerface 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.

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.

Healthcare WayfindingOur 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