EGD 101: Crafting Productive and Inspiring Office Interiors

By Phase 3
May 16, 2024

As employers are still in the process of welcoming employees back into the workplace, some employees are reluctant to return. McKinsey emphasizes that one of the most important things employers can do during re-entry is show sensitivity to employees' needs. Those needs include providing a comfortable and inspirational work environment.

Environmental graphic design (EGD for short) is a discipline that integrates various design elements, such as graphics, signage, wayfinding, and architectural features, to create a cohesive and engaging experience within a physical space. The primary goal of environmental graphic design for offices is to make a work environment more functional, informative, and aesthetically pleasing for employees.

EGD can be used in any interior or exterior public space, including shopping centers, healthcare facilities, museums, schools, parks, and office buildings. This blog post will focus on using environmental graphics to create welcoming and productive office workspaces. For more information about how environmental graphics can elevate other spaces, check out this post.


Elements of Environmental Graphic Design



EGD often involves creating signs and visual cues to help people move around and understand a space better. Wayfinding could include signage, floor graphics, wall murals, lighting, and interactive displays.



EGD is instrumental in conveying a brand's identity within physical spaces, incorporating logos, colors, and other brand elements into the overall space design. This may include signage or interactive displays representing the brand's history, values, or mission. Three-dimensional installations can be both functional and branded. EGD provides an opportunity to visually communicate a brand story, reinforcing the emotional connection between the brand and those working there.

True Temper, a sports equipment component designer, wanted their new Memphis headquarters to be a clear depiction of their history and mission. To them, the two hammers that comprise their logo represent a pure love for sports and the sweat and effort they put into crafting the best products. Working with designs created by True Temper’s architectural firm, our Phase 3 team installed logo-inspired designs and their taglines into every aspect of the space, including the lobby, conference rooms, coffee bar, interior walls, product displays, and digital displays. The results were cohesive branded spaces that employees are proud to work in.


True Temper


Information Design

This discipline within EGD organizes and presents information visually, aiding communication and understanding. Information design seeks to communicate complex information effectively, drawing on principles from graphic design, psychology, user experience design, and communication theory.


Thematic Design

EGD can contribute to establishing a thematic experience within a space that matches the environment's purpose, values, or identity. This concept serves as the foundation for all visual elements. This approach improves the overall experience by incorporating a consistent theme. It captures attention and communicates a specific identity or story.

In office spaces, the theme is often the employer’s brand but could also be a location, historical element, or a story. For example, Phase 3 worked with Microsoft to build out their office space in Minneapolis. The leaders wanted to lean into the local culture of the neighborhood. Our team again worked with the architecture and design firm to concept and build a three-dimensional art wall depicting the Mississippi River and the wildlife found there. It moves through the office space and provides visual appeal and a sense of pride.




Architectural Design 

EGD closely collaborates with existing architectural elements, ensuring seamless integration with the physical structure. By thoughtfully integrating architectural elements, EGD enhances the overall experience, communicates information effectively, and contributes to a functional and cohesive atmosphere.


Interactive Design 

EGD uses new technology like digital displays, touchscreens, or augmented reality to engage people in novel ways. For example, interactive screens can be strategically placed to provide users with information, wayfinding help, or interactive experiences. Physical installations such as interactive sculptures or walls that change based on user input can make the space more engaging. Additionally, floors that react to movement are another way to enhance the experience.



EGD focuses on making information easily understood by people with different abilities and needs. Key elements include clear and legible typography, Braille, universal symbols on signage, contrasting colors for better visibility, audio information, clear pathways, and multilingual information. This inclusive approach not only complies with legal requirements but also contributes to a positive and universally accessible user experience.


Common Misconception 

For business leaders and managers who aren’t well-versed in EGD, they may assume that EGD is only branded interior design. That is an element of EGD, but it isn’t the whole story. Both focus on creating cohesive and visually appealing environments. However, branded interior design focuses on aesthetic appeal using a brand as the theme. EGD has a broader scope, emphasizing the entire environment and focusing on more functional elements. Learn more about branded interior design here.

There are other common misconceptions associated with EGD, including:


EGD is Limited to Signage

EGD goes beyond signage to encompass a broader range of elements, including branding, wayfinding systems, architectural graphics, and immersive environmental experiences.




EGD is Exclusively for Large Spaces 

EGD principles can be applied to spaces of all sizes, from small offices to large campuses. The goal is to improve the experience of people engaging with the environment.


EGD is One-Time Design

Effective EGD involves ongoing maintenance and updates to ensure the environment remains relevant and functional. There are also times when EGD is a temporary upgrade, such as for an event.


EGD is Not Relevant in the Digital Age

In the age of digital communication, there is a misconception that physical graphic design is considered less relevant. However, EGD remains crucial because it provides a tangible experience that complements digital elements. As long as there are spaces where people congregate, EGD will be relevant.


EGD is Solely Visual

EGD can incorporate multisensory elements, considering factors such as tactile surfaces, sound, and interactive technologies to create a richer user experience.




EGD is Strictly Architectural

While collaboration with architects is common, EGD involves a multidisciplinary approach, including graphic designers, industrial designers, interior designers, fabricators, branding experts, and other professionals.


EGD is Expensive

EGD can be adapted to different budget constraints and scaled to fit various projects.


EGD is Not Impactful

Some may underestimate the impact of EGD on user experience. Well-executed EGD significantly influences how people navigate and interact with physical spaces, enhancing satisfaction and functionality.

Understanding the details of EGD can help with decision-making for building out an office or workspace. It also leads to more accurate expectations and appreciation of its scope and impact.


The Best Time to Update Office Environmental Graphics 

Every business with a physical space will benefit from EGD. Business leaders should assess their specific needs, goals, and the nature of their physical spaces to determine when and how to integrate EGD effectively.

There are certain times when incorporating EGD is most beneficial. They include when a company is:

  • Moving into a new space or renovating an existing space
  • Rebranding or updating the brand
  • Working on boosting office morale or building internal culture
  • Celebrating a special event like a milestone business anniversary

Regardless of the reason, the goal of EGD is to optimize the functionality of a space and support the intended activities and purpose of the environment. This includes considerations for flow, accessibility, and efficiency. A secondary goal should be to create visually appealing and harmonious spaces. In office spaces, EGD aims to create comfortable and enjoyable workspaces for employees, considering their needs, behaviors, and perceptions of work.




Getting Started

Initiating an EGD project involves several key steps to ensure a successful implementation. Consider finding a partner like the Phase 3 environmental design team that can guide you through the steps using a consultative approach. Even if you have specific ideas, experts can point out elements and issues you may not have considered. A great partner can take your ideas to the next level.

Here are some of the questions we typically ask our clients when starting an EGD project.

  • Why are you doing this project?
  • What are the goals for the project?
  • What is your timeline?
  • What is the function of the space?
  • What are your employees doing in this space?
  • How do you want your employees to feel?
  • What are your brand values, purpose, and mission?
  • What architectural elements are in the space?
  • What are your brand colors, fonts, themes, and personality?
  • How does technology fit into your space, both functionally and aesthetically?
  • Is this a permanent or semi-permanent change?
  • Are you interested in using sustainable or ecologically-friendly materials?

Keep in mind that any EGD project takes a minimum of 4 to 6 months from design to installation. To keep the team on track and manage expectations, it’s also essential to have a specific budget for the project. 

Impactful EGD can make a huge difference in your workspace. Employees want to work in an engaging, fun, and welcoming space. Your office can be a positive place for your employees, helping them look forward to coming to work.

When you are ready to update or design your office space, our team of designers, craftsmen, and fabricators can help. We are passionate about bringing great ideas to life, both those you bring to us and the ones we create for you. We know what it takes to create impactful, immersive office workspaces. Give us a call today for more information about our expert environmental graphics team and what we can do for you.