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Interior architect MNIL

Graduated in 2014 from Bergen Academy of Art and design

A Propos

Pernille completed her MA at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, which included both student exchange with UNSW in Sydney and practice here at IARK. Her interest in how people think and move in the built environment led to an in-depth study of Wayfinding, and the resulting MA was awarded the Anne Alnæs student prize for 2014.



Pernille Akselsen AV

What is wayfinding and why did you choose it as your master study?

Wayfinding is a fairly well-established concept and describes the process where people orientate themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. I think the psychological effect that interior design has on people is an exciting study – we must be aware of how our planning and design can influence a person’s movement and spatial experience. It was therefore I decided to chart the elements and solutions that can make buildings and interiors both legible and navigable.

How can interior design influence wayfinding?

Many will assume that signage is the only way to give directional guidance, but architectural elements and interiors are both important information carriers. A good solution is achieved when visitors aren’t even aware of any wayfinding system. Spatial elements give a more logical and intuitive way of finding a destination than simply signposting. For example, clearly visible reception areas, lifts and stairs do away with the need for signing, as do well-placed main entrances doors and circulation routes. Interiors with identity and character create recognizable spaces. Good planning is essential for clear sight-lines and logical patterns of movement.

Why is this important?

I believe it is important to focus upon wayfinding because it can ease everyday stress for many people. Most of us have probably got lost either in a hospital, station, shopping centre or large office complex. We architects and interior designers are responsible for ensuring that the buildings we create also function well. Each room and space must be part of a whole, linking and organizing space for arrival, through to destination and back again. My professor, Colin Rowan at UNSW says: “A building without a good wayfinding system is like a product without a user manual.” There could be more or less serious consequences if someone doesn’t arrive on time, and a company whose clients can’t find their way would be regarded as fairly unprofessional. Universal Design requires that everyone shall be able to orientate themselves and determine a destination in public buildings and spaces. It’s all about respecting people’s dignity and self-esteem regardless of age and physical, perceptual and cognitive abilities.