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Experiential Designer

The National Aquarium
Baltimore, United States Posted: January 30, 2024

National Aquarium’s Experiential Design Team creates environments that orient, inform, educate, and delight to connect people with nature to inspire compassion and care for our ocean planet.

  • The Experiential Designer provides conceptual planning, art direction, design and execution of design projects across the National Aquarium campus.
  • This position covers experience design in several contexts: exhibition design, environmental graphics, wayfinding, operational graphics and placemaking.
  • The designer maintains National Aquarium brand and quality standards in all projects and brings knowledge of various production materials and methods to the work.
  • This designer is a strong team member and enjoys working with content developers, designers, subject matter experts, project managers, fabricators and vendors to craft memorable experiences.
  • They must contribute to a positive, collaborative work environment and demonstrate a strong commitment to creating meaningful, engaging and accessible public experiences for diverse audiences.
  • Reports to Manager of Experiential Design for feedback and to establish workload, process and deadlines.
  • Reports to Manager of Experiential Design as directed by Director of Experiential Design for design and production deadlines, budget, material specifications and art direction related to design projects across the campus.
  • Develop 2D and 3D experiences and graphic design solutions for new projects: understand existing conditions, project scope and goals;
  • create a look and feel that’s imaginative and responsive to NA brand; develop appropriate concepts and continue to evolve them throughout the process;
  • communicate design concepts to team members and key stakeholders;
  • write and communicate graphic specifications;
  • maintain a graphics list; create production files;
  • manage production and installation.
  • Collaborate with team members to envision the overall experience.
  • Identify best strategies to express the project’s concept and meet the needs of the project’s goals and budget.
  • Apply appropriate design principles and communication techniques to effectively convey intent with team members and for approvals, responding to and incorporating feedback in a thoughtful manner.
  • Produce detailed design documents that represent design directions and solutions, including but not limited to:
  • look & feel boards, sketches, diagrams, typographic and color palettes, graphic hierarchy, layouts, floor plans, elevations, perspective drawings, renderings, models, production details, and code-compliant design specifications.
Manage graphic production:
  • Set up accurate production files and effectively communicate production specifications;
  • keep current with graphic production methods, materials, and technologies; acquire estimates for jobs;
  • coordinate with experiential design project manager or Exhibit Fabrication and Operations on methods and materials when necessary;
  • consult with and manage vendors as needed to ensure the most effective and highest quality solutions of the final products.
Manage exhibit graphics work orders:
  • Develop a plan for completing work orders independently or with appropriate team members, from conception to fabrication to installation, in coordination with the Manager of Experiential Design.
  • Provide excellent service and develop professional, creative, timely and effective solutions consistent with Aquarium graphic and brand standards.
  • Incorporate information gathered through evaluations and guest feedback tools to inform design approaches and visual tone.
  • Source and/or create photos, imagery, drawings, etc. for use interpretive materials.
  • Develop prototypes or samples for testing ideas, working both independently and in collaboration with Exhibit Fabrication and Operations (our in-house fabrication team) or outside vendors.
  • Provide consultation and services to meet strategic, institutional and interdepartmental objectives requiring graphic components.
  • These often include perspectives of other departments (animal care and welfare, facilities, guest engagement and guest services).
  • Conduct regular surveys of the in-building experience in order to maintain existing campus graphics in good condition, replacing damaged or degraded materials, as budgeted.
  • Maintain, and where necessary, develop new, appropriate graphic standards for environmental and exhibit graphics.
  • Administer the exhibit graphics records: Maintain an organized system of production files, standard operating procedures and guidelines for regularly produced graphics; establish and manage vendor contacts.
  • When necessary, furnish materials (formatted templates, logo files, graphic specifications) and information to staff and vendors for implementation and compliance.
  • Maintain graphic production supplies and tools.
  • Continue to develop design skills as interest develops and departmental needs evolve.
  • Adhere to all organizational and departmental policies and procedures.
  • Other duties as assigned or required.
Experience Required
  • Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design, Art, Architecture, Interior Design, Industrial Design, Museum Studies or equivalent experience.
  • Minimum of five years experience in exhibit design, exhibit graphic design and/or environmental graphic design with progressively increasing design responsibilities.
  • Experience working with museums, aquaria, zoos, public gardens, and other publicly oriented cultural or science-based institutions highly desired.
  • Proven design skills throughout the entire design process, from concept development to fabrication.
  • Commitment to collaboration and an iterative, experience-focused, design process.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Must have an ability to facilitate design discussions to solicit constructive feedback and approvals, write clear production and installation notes and specifications, and conduct reviews of proofs/prototypes and final products.
  • Demonstrated interest in design thinking. Identify, research and analyze the problem, then generate ideas and concepts, prototype, test solutions, evaluate outcomes and propose alternatives.
  • Ability to create and develop visual responses to design problems.
  • Must have an understanding of principles of composition, information hierarchy, symbolic representation, typography, and aesthetics as they apply to a range of media and the development of meaningful messages.
  • Thorough understanding of production for multiple applications and formats such as backlit transparencies, direct printing on a variety of materials, large-format graphics, signage of various types and multi-media applications.
  • Familiarity with and interest in keeping up with sustainable and eco-friendly design, production and fabrication approaches. Familiarity with exhibit planning, development and fabrication.
  • Advanced knowledge in 2D design programs – Adobe Creative Suite programs.
  • Experience with Fusion 360, Sketch-Up, AutoCAD, Vector works, Rhino drafting and 3D modeling software preferred.
  • An understanding of the roles of tools and technology in the creation of multi-modal experiences.
  • An understanding of and commitment to accessibility standards in design to ensure our experiences are welcoming and relevant for the one million plus guests who visit each year.
  • Knowledge of best practices in ADA compliance, universal design, accessibility, equity, and inclusivity.
  • Experience with online project management software (such as Wrike, Teamwork, Asana) for planning and tracking project tasks.
  • Ability to coordinate cost estimating for project production.
  • Ability to be flexible, nimble and dynamic in practice.
  • Ability to effectively work both independently and collaboratively on interdisciplinary teams.
  • Ability to successfully work within and maintain National Aquarium’s Core Values (Integrity, Innovation, Service, Excellence, Engagement).
  • Medical,
  • Dental,
  • Vision,
  • 401(K) match and More!
  • 61,000-65,000

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