STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Meet Annika Zitto and learn about her Gutman Library signage project

The Gutman Library is thrilled that Annika chose to create signage for the library for her Experiential Graphic Design course. Annika’s project will be on display at the Gutman Library, on the Main Floor, in the display cases across from the Check Out Desk for the Fall 2023 semester.

We sat down with Annika to learn more about her project and what excites her about graphic design, wayfinding, and libraries.

What is your name, major, and class year?
My name is Annika Zitto. My pronouns are she/they. I’m a Visual Communication Design major in the Class of 2025.

What made you decide to become a Visual Communication Design major?
Even before I knew what graphic design was, I was paying attention to it in the world. I loved infographics as a kid and I was always taking notice of the typography on signage. Graphic Design is my concentration within Visual Communication Design.

Could your project be implemented in real life?
This project is purely hypothetical but I was very intentional to ensure the design was feasible. Consider, for example, the blade signs, used to show the range of books available in each aisle. Since library collections often change or move around, the Dewey call numbers on the blade signs feature removable vinyl. As the collection is moved around, the numbers can be removed and adjusted to reflect the aisle’s new contents. Shelf dividers can also be arranged based on the library’s collection. To ensure that the signs would look clean with a variety of dewey numbers, lining numerals were used to keep the numbers spaced evenly.

What inspired you to do this project?
When I was asked to choose a location on campus to make signage for, I immediately chose the library. During the school year, I am constantly visiting and borrowing books from the library. One of my professors even called me the “Library Advocate,” because of how often I am sharing resources and cool finds with other students in my major. I knew this project would allow me to use my design skills to conceptualize an ideal library experience.

What’s your favorite thing about libraries?
My favorite thing about libraries is the visual and physical exploration of finding new books. Actively browsing the shelves leads me to finding books I would have never thought to search for digitally. The tactile experience of browsing and flipping through books really peaks my curiosity.

Why is wayfinding so important?
Good wayfinding is so important because it allows us to access and navigate the world we live in. Signage that facilitates efficient wayfinding is an essential component to creating accessible spaces. It makes it possible for people to find their destination. It also enables people to discover new parts of a place they often visit. Since wayfinding is constant in our lives, it’s important to give it proper attention when designing a space. Bad wayfinding can be stressful, time consuming, confusing, and inaccessible to many. Good wayfinding flips this around, creating an accessible and enjoyable user experience on each front. Efficient design utilizes identifiable, consistent, patterns so people can predict the experiences they will have in the space and navigate accordingly to access what they’re looking for. To provide accessibility to a variety of users, it will utilize differing cues, such as type, color, and multisensory elements, to guide people through the space. It can also evoke a sense of the place’s identity, connecting users to the place through its wayfinding design.

What career paths are you interested in pursuing after graduation?
After graduating, I plan to pursue a career in information design with a focus on sustainability. I want to use information design to increase accessibility to and awareness of environmental knowledge that when known by many, has the power to change our world, legislation, and quality of life for generations.

This past year, I was a research assistant for Dr. Radika Bhaskar, where I designed visual information about bioplastics for educational outreach. Working under Dr. Bhaskar, I engaged my intellectual curiosity for the intersections between user experience, accessibility, environmentalism, and urban design. I hope to explore these topics more in my future research and career.

How can people get in touch with you to collaborate?
If you want to see more of my work, be sure to check out my design Instagram which is linked on my Link Tree. Feel free to reach out to my Jefferson email to connect.

I am also the President of Jefferson’s AIGA Professional Association for Design chapter. Any student is welcome to drop by one of our meetings to connect. If you’re interested in collaborating with AIGA, direct message our official Instagram account!

Is there anything you’d like to mention that we didn’t ask?
I’m grateful to have the opportunity to showcase my work and share my passions. I am so thankful to everyone who helped me bring this project to life!

I want to thank Renee Walker for teaching this course. I really enjoyed it! I also want to thank Jess Jahnle and the rest of the team at the Surface Imaging for their help with creating this display. We were able to get some incredible prototypes printed through the Surface Imaging Lab that truly elevated the project. Finally, biggest thanks to the Gutman Library organization for hosting my display and to Megan Donnelly, Outreach and Engagement Librarian, for collaborating with me to create it.