Designing wayfinding with acupuncture?

Picture of the front of the Shanghai South Railway StationThis is a fascinating article showing how the concepts of one discipline (acupuncture) can be applied to a completely different discipline (wayfinding in public places). Soon after the Shanghai South Railway Station was opened in 2007 there were complaints about the legibility of signage and clarity of wayfinding. Passengers resorted to asking security staff and cleaners for directions. This was not encouraging more people to use public transport.

To improve matters the researchers turned to the principles of acupuncture to guide their design thinking, “Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of solid, generally thin needles in the body. The wayfinding system redesign adopted the acupuncture approach, working on the assumption that single initiatives unified in a general framework can have a systemic effect. In the same way as acupuncture adequately stimulates key acupoints to affect the whole meridian system, we believed that finding and redesigning the key points in the old system would form a strong cooperative network to generate effects throughout the site (Lou Yong-qi, 2010).”

The article, The Sustainable Challenges and Opportunities in Environment Graphic Design  by Dr. Wu Duan, Dr. An Dadi, and Dr. Gao Bo can be downloaded from the website.