Making the invisible, visible
Client: Queenstown Airport
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Photography: Michael Thomas
Best Design Awards 2019: Finalist
Chois Gallery Magazine Vol. 36. Shanghai, China
GSM Magazine Issue No 8. New Zealand & Australia
Novum Magazine 12.16. Munich, Germany
Package & Design Magazine Vol 205. Guangzhou, China
We were commissioned to redesign the wayfinding system for Queenstown Airport. This airport is the gateway to southern New Zealand, and the fourth busiest airport in the country by passenger numbers, behind Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. QAC strives to deliver an efficient and operationally sound airport with world-class facilities and an outstanding passenger experience that reflects the best the region has to offer.
We worked very closely with the airport team to understand and respond to their needs. Throughout the creative process, our priority was to put visitors at the heart of every decision to ensure a customer-centred approach and always referred to QAC core principles of affordable, adaptable, sustainable and memorable.
We wanted something unique, yet functional and we believe we’ve achieved this balance through a clear, simple and recognisable signage system that appeals to multiple audiences.
The concept developed was ‘Making the invisible, visible’. The main idea was to visualise the invisible lines that are created when people are traveling from one place to another. It is a concept based around a flexible, modular and scalable identity of three intuitive and friendly lines, which have multiple uses and forms depending on the action required. Following the three lines concept, we created a bespoke set of pictograms, a core element of this signage system. Designed to enhance the visitor experience, we decided to super-size the pictograms creating a highly-graphic, friendly and functional experience, appealing to all visitors.
The colour palette is inspired by the colours of the Queenstown Airport brand identity, paired with the extremely pleasant and legible Flama by Feliciano Type Foundry. This is a clean typography which mixes aspects of European and American sans serifs, adding a highly efficient ‘neutral’ flavour. The combination of these elements has made it possible to create a truly enjoyable experience. We also incorporated a nod to New Zealand’s heritage reinterpreting the traditional Maori Koru and subtly incorporating it throughout the entire wayfinding system, for example as glass safety strips or to accentuate key entry and exit points. Photographs used on some walls were carefully picked from local artists instead of using classic catalogue images. The idea is to support local talent in our community.
Behind the wayfinding system lies a clear concept.
The redesign works as a vehicle to highlight the fact that despite strongly growing passenger numbers (with more than 2.14 million annual passengers), Queenstown Airport preserves a human, friendly and warm atmosphere.
The installation and transformation of the wayfinding includes the international and domestic terminals, airside and landside doors, bathroom facilities, car parks, Flight Information Display Screens (FIDS), info desk, baggage trolleys, QAC internal offices and the operations centre.
As a result, we’ve achieved a highly distinctive and consistent wayfinding system. Above all, it's effective, which is crucial to fostering a positive experience.
Orla Nic Carthaigh
— Airport Duty Manager &
Wayfinding Project Manager
‘Collaborating with makebardo was refreshing in its ease. Many words can be used to describe the dynamic pair that are Bren & Luis – inspirational, passionate, gifted, innovative, humble, beyond helpful….they are; in essence; exceptional designers. We had a vision which they made into the most wonderful reality, truly making the invisible; visible. We are complimented daily by our contemporaries and most importantly by our passengers. What a pleasure it was to work alongside this talented team. I very much look forward to continuing on our creative and adventurous journey together’.