SHARING AND HELPING WHERE WE CAN
BY: ELIZABETH VON LEHE, DESIGN AND BRAND STRATEGY PRINCIPAL, HDR
Sitting in my living room/office/entire world during the quarantine these past months has been an unreal experience. There have been thousands of Zoom calls, almost no wearing of shoes, and a constant hum of uncertainty for what might be around the corner each new day. Even with the unusual and stressful circumstances, my husband and I have been incredibly humbled by the stark differences laid bare in our society — we're lucky to have jobs that we love, which we can also do safely from our homes. As stores and businesses start to reopen, or continue to function as the world around them twists and turns, many of us are looking for a way to help, but immediately ask ourselves — How? What can we do? I'm not a frontline medical worker, or a subway conductor, or any of the jobs that have suddenly become the literal lifeline for millions.
A handful of fellow designers at HDR and I had this exact conversation and realized that while we can't solve COVID or the economic impacts being felt by small businesses across the country, we can donate our skillset to try and make them just a little bit safer. We decided to create a basic set of wayfinding signs, designed to be highly legible and visible — and incredibly cheap to print — and give them away to small businesses, nonprofits, and other groups that are at the heart of our communities. This was done completely pro-bono in our individual private time, from each of our corners of the quarantine. It has been so heartening to start seeing the signs popping up in storefronts as things begin to open.
This might be a tiny project to inspire the graphically inclined among us, but I wanted to share this in case it sparks other moments of inspiration. What skills do you take for granted, that you might be able to use right now on behalf of the community? Are there good intentions that you can turn into action, however small or humble?
If you have a small shop, manage a building with tenants, or know of anyone at all that might be able to use some ready-made COVID signage to stay a little safer in the coming weeks and months — please pass this along.