The influential thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” With all respect to the great man, Thinking Caps Design takes the contrarian view that it’s the destination that matters.
As an environmental graphics firm that creates visual experiences and a sense of place in the built environment, we might be forgiven for taking a little liberty with Emerson’s transcendental notions on the soul and its place in the surrounding world. But it’s that very sentiment that inspires us to turn conventional wisdom on its head and step outside the box. We say that in a world that is changing ever more rapidly, we can derive peace and soulful nourishment from familiar surroundings. A tangible sense of place in our urban environment becomes a cohesive embrace of community. We need more of that truly.
We like the journey too, to be honest. Together, our design team set out to visit the city spaces where Thinking Caps Design had contributed to creating a sense of place through identity, interpretive and wayfinding solutions. We climbed in our car and navigated among the many icons of downtown Phoenix our studio helped define over the years like the Convention Center, Symphony Hall and the Orpheum Theater. It sprinkled rain lightly as we cruised by Civic Space Park and viewed the entry signage at ASU’s Taylor Place community. We ventured to Tempe Town Lake, the ASU Foundation building, Hayden Ferry and the Tempe Transportation Center. The interpretive signage at Scottsdale’s Chaparral Park called to us before traveling to Chandler’s Downtown District and City Hall — striking examples of a revitalization effort that succeeded in redefining the community.
We could steer toward more past projects but chose to reflect at lunch and look ahead. The breadth of our studio’s projects animated our conversation and lifted our spirits. We had chosen design as an avocation, but we were also part of something larger and meaningful in a very personal way. Emerson was right that the journey matters and here we were enjoying one together, but when it comes to crafting visual experiences that unite a community, we put our most creative thinking caps on because destination matters too.