Decoding Design

South Korea's redesigned road signs

Posting in Design

South Korea's redesigned national road signage system reflects the country's rising international prominence.

South Korea is rolling out a newly redesigned national road signage system that makes more room for English and Chinese text.

Because of crowded characters and third party advertising on fixed-sized panels, the previous signage system was confusing. In addition to Korean road names and directional information, the signs included tightly squeezed English and Chinese text, which were easily missed at driving speeds.

To accommodate long English translations and roman phonetic spelling of Korean road names, Studio Dumbar (with the help of Dutch typeface designer Pieter van Rosmalen) created a new font for the English text, called ‘Hangil’--a play on the Korean word for the Korean written language, Hangul. The new font uses narrow characters and wider spacing between characters to improve readability.

The designers' other solutions for better visual accessibility include
- a darker background color for better contrast
- redesigned arrows and icons for quicker scanning at higher speeds
- guidelines for layout, typography, colors, and graphic elements
- no advertising

The new signage system is currently being placed across the country, well ahead of the many international visitors anticipated for the 2018 winter Olympics.

Road signs are something we take for granted until we travel to a place where we can't read the signs. South Korea's redesign project diplomatically recognizes the country's position as a rising international player.

Via: Dezeen

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure