A Sign of Democracy

A Sign of Democracy

C&G Partners, New York, New York, 2005


The client, a new educational institution in downtown Los Angeles, is dedicated to experimental educational programs for youth and their teachers to explore, question and strengthen the democratic process. The museum was looking for a fresh way to project relevant quotes about the nature of democracy and freedom to its visitors, as well as to create a way to project the institutional mission of the Center. The sign is above a prominent staircase in the museum’s central lobby. The institution places special emphasis on the “actions” of democracy, which are all oriented around words: writing, speaking, reading, voting. That spirit comes alive in this piece, which changes to a new quote or poem line by line, letter by letter, in a noisy cascade that can be heard throughout the lobby. Each flap of the mechanical unit was custom silk-screened with a layout that incorporated the main typeface of their brand identity, with a series of special characters for writing in international languages, Spanish being particularly important. The timing of the dynamic sign’s changes is neither fast nor regular, but it is delightfully loud, which creates a sense of surprise with each transition. The building’s staff have grown quite fond of the noise, comparing the sound it makes to a “great big rain stick.” It has a way of commanding the attention of visitors.

Juror Notes

*Social Relevance Award.
The quotes are great; the low technology is enough in itself to draw your attention, make you look and read it, but not overwhelm you.

Collections: AIGA 365: 27 (2006)
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Information design
Format: Signage, Artifact