Every design firm has a few defining moments. One of ours is an oldie but a goodie—25 years ago, we were selected by an international jury to design the wayfinding system for the world-renowned Musée du Louvre. We received the request for proposal via telegram (how times have changed!), and eventually had to make our big presentation to a couple dozen architects, designers and government officials in Paris. Très intimidant!
Ken flew to Paris solo and midway through his pitch, he decided to forget the translator and forge ahead in French. This may have been the move that clinched it. Perhaps charmed by his occasional mispronunciation, the jury awarded CSA the project, and we were off running.
Working with I.M. Pei and his team, we integrated major directional and information signs into the architecture, treating the museum like a city, with geographic zones and clusters of galleries to mimic Paris’s arrondissement system. Our signage mirrored Pei’s use of materials —glass, stone, and steel — to subtly complement the architecture and the grand spaces while being visible enough to guide the international visitor. And as Ken says, he still feels pretty good about the project , since he now has more work hanging in the Louvre than any other artist. And perhaps even better: after 25 years, the system is still in place.