Jane Davis Doggett

Jane Davis Doggett: WAYFINDER IN THE JET AGE

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A Personal Portrait of an American Original
in a 35-minute documentary

Pat Williams Productions

About the Film: Jane Davis Doggett: Graphic Artist
WAYFINDER IN THE JET AGE

It is not likely that you would enter an airport today and not find Jane Davis Doggett's graphic design concepts of wayfinding. The use of a common alphabet for signage, continuous title bands, overhead spanning directionals, three-dimensional sign canopies, and codification of separate terminals or zones by letter —A, B, C—, color and symbol are hallmarks of her innovations.

As fate would have it, when she graduated from Yale in 1956, the "piston" turned into a "jet" which opened up the way for new, bold design concepts for the jetports. It also opened up for Jane Doggett a pioneer role in a new field that was emerging in the 1950"s: environmental graphics design.

With new airports as her laboratory for experimenting in design theory, her wayfinding system evolved, which proved to be not only effective in airports but also in mass transit facilities, universities, hospitals, sports arenas, museums and other cultural facilities, wherever the persuasive movement of the mass public was vital.

Witty and wise, she shares her remarkable career and amazing life in the 30-minute documentary Jane Davis Doggett: Graphic Artist, WAYFINDER IN THE JET AGE.

While a graduate student at Yale Art & Architecture, she was awed by the size and scope of the new environments as envisioned in architectural theory and instruction under the helm of Louis Kahn. To quote her:

"It occurred to me to think about the person confronted for the first time with unfamiliar spaces in these architectural behemoths. Diminished in human scale, how would this person relate to such a new world; how would this person find his way?" This was the spark that ignited her goal to humanize and define the public"s way by innovating with a visual language using graphic tools: alphabet, colors, symbols. The Inspired teaching at Yale under Josef Albers in design and color and Alvin Eisenman in graphics gave her the foundation and Yale "Bulldog" determination to pursue her goal.

In conversational style, she invites the viewer to see the world through her unique vision. Whether describing her two-color graphic system at Tampa International Airport — still in use after 30 years — or her 23rd Psalm sculptures on permanent exhibit at Yale, or her encounter with Picasso on the Riviera during has ceramics period, she is both the consummate artist and storyteller.

Graphic Design and Art Work
by Jane Davis Doggett

In the six panels that follow are selections of Jane Davis Doggett's creative work over a long career as an artist and designer, and as a pioneer in environmental graphics design.

Her design innovations have left a legacy of wayfi nding concepts and graphics design systems that are pervasive in today’s new airports and other mass public environments.

"Airports," she says," were my laboratories, where I experimented with every kind of symbol and signal, colors and geometrics, and the old reliable A, B, C"s and 1, 2, 3"s. I put these components to work in simplified but commanding sign layouts that I conceived of as integrated parts in a system of the persuasive movement of people in a continuous progression by transport and by foot. My system began (for the first time in engineered routings) at the airport roadway entrance, and was sustained in graphic continuity into and throughout the terminal environment."

"I took clippers and vacuum cleaner to the hodge-podge of ill-conceived signage in the old airports that were accelerated into rapid conversion to the coming of the jet. Out went those rental car signs in blinking neon with wires showing, jammed on nice old architectural surfaces. Out went signs with airlines titles hanging like tacky 'for sale' tags at a cheap shopping arcade. I gathered up the information, boiled it down to messages with essential directions, information and identities. I set them in clear layouts in the most readable alphabet forms I could design, and organized them in overhead architectural systems of message bands and spans — harking back to the friezes of Greek classical architecture."

"I recognized that airports could become overly uniformed with the repeat branding of the same airlines, rental cars, Dunkin' Donuts, etc., that would deny the individual airport its place and identity in the world. In each project, I put emphasis on the airport as a unique place, whose special features, geographic and cultural, should be featured in the designed whole as an area Gateway."

The first three wayfi nding panels demonstrate major innovations that she brought to the dramatic change in the air transportation environment, beginning in the 1950's. The other three panels display selected art works from recent two-and three-dimensional creations.

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