Saturday, December 10, 2011

Signs and Posters, a photo essay

Co-ops tend to have eclectic interior design due to the varying tastes of the residents, though one thing that is unique to this type of residential environment is the large amount of signs.  The following signs are from Lothlorien Co-op, a student co-op with 57 residents and 20+ boarders (people who live elsewhere, but eat their meals at the co-op). 

As the number of residents goes up, the amount of signs increases as more and more communication and self-expression relies on passive mass media. 
3-6 people: a few signs on the fridge
7-12 people: signs around the kitchen and in hallways
13-25 people: the above, plus signs in bathrooms and on bulletin boards
25-80 people: signs throughout common spaces
81+ people: signs everywhere, walls covered in writing and artwork

Let's start with the front door.  When most residents don't have cars, where does one express themselves with witty political slogans?  On the front door!

The kitchen door which is the one most residents use to enter the building, has a more utilitarian function.  It is used to advertise events. 

In contrast, a bulletin board made specifically for advertising events, located in the dining room (a less heavily trafficked area) is barely used. 

There's a bulletin board for official announcements

 There's a board specifically for workshift (Chore assignment)

 Refrigerators are prime sign real estate.  These signs talk about how to reduce waste and where to find recycling bins. 

 This refrigerator, being one of the most heavily used, has a lot of interactive signage, including sign-up sheets for house elections.

Multiple levels of information on the inside of the front door in the foyer: a calendar, photos, an event flyer, and energy use data.  The poster in the back is of a nebula.  There is also an object-specific sign here reminding people not to prop the door. 
 More object-specific signage on a pantry window.

 Recycling signs.  With over 12 different categories of recycling ranging from plastics to electronics to hazardous materials, recycling signs are one of the most common.  One reason is that they are often used by visitors to the house, who can't be reached via house email lists. 

When one's room door is one's front door, posters and other decorations sprout on and around the door

Signs are also used as general purpose decoration.

The bathroom is full of signs, as it's a natural place for people to read things.

Sound like information overload?  Not necessarily.  Since the co-op buys food in bulk, there is one place where signs are minimal - the pantry.  Contrast the view below to that of a typical household pantry with its rows of brightly branded food products.