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Through research and education, the Signage Foundation, Inc. analyzes and communicates the societal benefits of on-premise signage.

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The Regulation of Signage - Save the date - october 8-9, 2014
Keynote Presentation Announced for 2014 National Signage Research & Education Conference

Craig VogelThe Board of Directors of the Signage Foundation in collaboration with the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati is pleased to announce the keynote topic and presenters. The topic “Building the Experience: Respecting Constraints While Pushing Variables” will be presented by Craig M. Vogel, FIDSA, Associate Dean, College of DAAP, University of Cincinnati, Kelly Kolar, CCO, Kolar Design and Mary Dietrich, COO/Client Leader, Kolar Design. Internationally recognized designer, educator and author Craig Vogel serves as professor and associate dean for graduate studies and research in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), has served as an interim to fill the college’s Terry Fruth/Gemini Chair of Signage Design and Community Planning.

Vogel, named one of the nation’s most-admired design educators in the Design Intelligence 2012 architecture and design rankings, works to build a university-wide framework for research and teaching related to signage and its role in design fields, in business disciplines, in the social sciences, in law and more. 

This role has served as a return to Vogel’s roots when, as a graduate student, he worked in the signage industry in New York City for several years, specifically for Arthur Blum Signs in Brooklyn where he designed, completed technical drawings, fabricated, sold and obtained variances for commercial signage. 

Recalled Vogel, “I loved every minute I worked in the signage industry in New York. It was such a wide range of experience, with every facet of design and business involved. I worked with large corporations and entities like Swissair and Texas Chicken on their signage as well as small Brooklyn ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses. I learned the tremendous impact signage has on the world, even though that impact is not well understood outside of the signage industry itself.” And it’s where he learned in a hands-on, applied way, the truism that the worse the economy, the more important the signage. 

Kelly Kolar
Kelly Kolar is president/founder and chief creative director of Kolar Design. Having founded Kolar Design in 1990, Kolar has focused on harnessing the power of design as a transformative element in built environments. A creative collaborator, she uses her love of design and understanding of the human element to find new and better ways to connect people, places and brands.

Today, Kolar Design is a premier creative consultancy and specializes in brand strategy, design and execution. With a unique blend of brand strategy and interpretive storytelling, the firm creates innovative and holistic branded solutions, from identity programs to built environments, for clients around the world. Clients include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Mercy Health, Cincinnati Streetcar, University of Cincinnati, Washington University, Cincinnati Parks, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and Procter & Gamble globally.

Mary DietrichMary Dietrich, EDAC, is Chief Operations Officer and Client Leader of Kolar Design, Inc. With 15 years of corporate, healthcare and academic experience, Mary is a branded-environments expert who leads strategic-research and brand-ambassador initiatives for the firm which help customers leverage their business needs in the built environment through results-oriented customer and staff engagement. National and international clients include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Procter and Gamble, Microsoft, University of Cincinnati and Allied Insurance.

A graduate of University of Cincinnati, College of DAAP, Dietrich received her Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design degree. Dietrich lectures nationally on the integration of brand into the built environment and is an adjunct faculty at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. She is an EDAC-accredited professional. Her work is published in American Corporate Identity, What is Exhibition Design? and Graphis. Dietrich is a member of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber C-Change leadership-development program, Class of V.

The keynote presentation will focus on how regulations vary significantly from one city to another. How can mandated standards coexist with creative solutions? Every rule system should respect community values, while also allowing for creative interpretation. New opportunities for communicating in public spaces are often evolving faster than regulations can adapt. Designers must accept responsibility for appropriately pushing the boundaries of existing rule systems using either simple elegant solutions, or complex solutions with and integrity that maintains clarity while also conveying emotional value.

Earlier this year, the design industry lost an icon in Massimo Vignelli. A designer who devoted his career to the power of thoughtful design, Massimo, in “The Vignelli Canon”, professes the designer’s responsibility is “…to design something that has a meaning, that is not arbitrary … something which every detail carries the meaning or has a precise purpose aimed at a precise target.” Massimo, like many other great 20th Century designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, held in high regard the importance of functionality while also achieving high quality and beauty in every endeavor.

Leveraging case study examples, the presenters will demonstrate environments that have consistently achieved the regulatory requirements of each setting, while utilizing thoughtful design as a catalyst to create places to live, work, play and heal whose powerful impressions have meaningful impact for the individuals who experience them.

SFI Establishes the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research & Education

The Signage Foundation Inc. (SFI), in its continuing efforts to build a comprehensive collaborative network within academia, has established the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research & Education (AACSRE). Dr. Dawn Jourdan, associate professor and director of the Regional and City Planning program at the UniversityDr. Dawn Jourdan of Oklahoma, was elected to chair the Council. Dr. Gene Hawkins, associate professor, Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University and research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), was elected vice chairman.

AACSRE strives to provide independent leadership for the development of new knowledge and educational experiences for the purpose of advancing the science, technology, art/advertising and regulation of signage, specifically on-premise signage.

In furtherance of this purpose, the activities of AACSRE include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Developing a process to engage the broader academic community in important research issues related to signage.
  • Identifying research, educational needs and opportunities within academia and professional settings.
  • Recommending priorities for research and education initiatives.
  • Creating cross-disciplinary dialogue on signage research needs.
  • Identifying emerging topics/trends for signage applicability and research.
  • Generating benchmarking exercises.
  • Measuring the impact of generated work products.
  • Providing assessment and guidance to the Signage Foundation’s current and future peer-review processes.
  • Identifying new funding opportunities.
  • Identifying a comprehensive network of subject-matter experts.
  • Identifying a multi-disciplinary component within each university
  • Expanding AACSRE involvement to additional universities.
  • Identifying and aligning with professional associations and related organizations.
Additionally, the initial scope of work of AACSRE shall include:Dr. Gene Hawkins

  • Implementing immersion and integration efforts that build on innovative strategies from each university.
  • Participating in the peer-review process for the SFI.
  • Disseminating SFI research through journals, websites, etc. with the goal of SFI being identified as the comprehensive source for signage research.
  • Providing technical expertise on how signage is addressed within each academic discipline
SFI is developing a significant body of research, and providing a strong presence within academia, about the value and importance of readable and conspicuous signage to the success and vitality of the American small-business community. SFI’s efforts are directed to on-premise storefront signs and to the benefits that proper signage offers for enhanced profitability and job creation/retention potential of America’s small businesses, over 25 million strong – which provide more than 50% of the gross domestic product and employment to more than 50% of the workforce, and which create More than two-thirds of net new jobs in our national economy.

For additional information on AACSRE, please contact Patty Herbin at (336) 260- 3197 or by email at

The Challenge

On-premise signage is one of the backbones of commerce. Centuries before the advent of the printing press and today’s modern graphic and electronic communication media, signage played a significant role in advertising the availability of goods and services. And signage, in all its various forms, is no less important a communication medium now than it was then. Despite its many contributions to retail vibrancy in our economy, questions are continually being raised about the value of signage and its social and economic impact and value. Until recently, there has been no single organization on the national level devoted solely to the development of peer-reviewed research and education that addresses on-premise signage for all concerned constituencies. That is where The Signage Foundation Inc. comes in.

The Signage Foundation, Inc. (SFI) works to promote signage in the societal sense, educating the public about its social, economic and aesthetic value to the at-large society, emphasizing to users how to maximize their communication effectiveness. The Foundation focuses on bringing education to sign users and to those who interact with sign users, including advertising agencies, lenders, appraisers, attorneys, regulators, business form franchisers and small businesses.

SFI works to develop the most effective means possible to deliver information on the economic, social and communication value of on-premise signage to the end-using public and those who regulate it.

The Foundation builds relationships with academic and governmental organizations to develop and enunciate public policy for on-premise signs. The Foundation develops basic research on the social, economic and aesthetic benefits of on-premise signage. The resounding message throughout the work of the Signage Foundation, Inc. is the goal of establishing full and unconditional acceptance and endorsement of the time, place and manner focus as a commitment to storefront signage.


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