Décor Means More: Decorative Street Signs Are En Vogue

April 27, 2012

Many street signs can be custom-made for some flair.

The breadth of signs available these days ranges from regulated and straightforward to humorous or simply bizarre. Yet as any number of billboard companies or beautification initiatives can verify, the true key to a successful sign lies in its aesthetic value. Sometimes this just means that a sign must be clear and unobstructed. But often, drivers and pedestrians are more likely to respond positively to signage or billboards if they are pleasing to the eye.

A recent trend in city planning and improvement projects has put decoration at the top of a list that once favored simplicity. In the Twin Cities, Forecast Public Art has partnered with Clear Channel Outdoor to bring noncommercial public art to a handful of billboards throughout the metropolitan area. The initiative, titled Neighborland, pegged the lauded Candy Chang, a self-proclaimed city-planning artist, to design the interactive digital billboards that invite viewers to participate by submitting their answers to the question, “What do you want in the Twin Cities?” Select responses will be displayed on the billboards in the next installment of the project.

Other street art by Candy Chang.

Across the Great Lakes, decorative signs have also made a splash. The city of Hamburg, New York, is installing 22 unique and artfully embellished street signs throughout the municipality. Board Trustee Paul Gaughan advocated the enterprise at a town meeting on April 16. Gaughan, who refers to Hamburg as “the village,” cited the new street signs as a way to help distinguish the town and highlight some of its historical and natural attributes. The signs feature a stylized “H” surrounded by a flowery insignia that reads “Village of Hamburg – New York.

One of the decorative signs in the Village of Hamburg’s beautification project.

If the improved signage is successful, perhaps tourists will forgive the town one of its notable natives, Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt. Though we’d guess that if the sign that commemorates his former residence is pretty enough, all may be forgotten – at least temporarily.

– R. Sapon-White

Category: Miscellaneous

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