Expo ’98 signs up winning designer

Ten designers were asked to come up with ideas based around the pictogram-led communications system for Lisbon’s Expo ’98. Clare Dowdy looks at the results

The organisers of Expo ’98 invited ten designers to take part in a paid creative pitch to design the site’s signage.

As well as the winner, Shigeo Fukuda from Japan, the other nine participants were drawn from Italy, Spain, the US and Portugal itself. London-based John McConnell was the UK entrant.

Fukuda was awarded about 4000 and the other nine entrants picked up about 2000.

Portuguese designer Henrique Cayatte and Italian architect Pierluigi Cerri devised the original communications system to feature the concept of pictograms. The ten designers were then given an open brief and were asked to come up with three pictograms illustrating a meeting point, electronic information and toilets.

While other aspects of the site’s communications will include maps and information points, “this is non-verbal communications and is easily identifiable to everybody”, says an Expo ’98 spokesman.

Fukuda’s initial designs will be joined by other images for specific needs, such as signs for the pavilions, restaurants and fast food areas, children, lost and found areas and baby sitters.

“Fukuda was chosen for the simplicity of his proposals,” says the Expo spokesman.

The Japanese designer, who graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music in 1956, has built up an international reputation through his poster designs. He will now further develop his designs for around 60 basic signs.

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