Wayfinding that creates a sense of place at Tate St Ives



Congratulations Tate St Ives, winners of:
ArtFund Museum of the Year 2018

RIBA South West Award 2018
RIBA National Award 2018


St Ives is known as the art hub of England’s Southwest. Tate St Ives, an iconic brand that has been an important part of the St Ives community for over 25 years, was refurbishing part of the gallery in 2017.

Tate were looking for a new wayfinding system that gave the gallery’s newly refurbished and existing space a fresh perspective, and that focused on the visitors and their needs, whilst visually being empathetic to the nature of the space and the architecture. The building, an old gas works, has been designed to give an architectural nod to this history and this theme runs throughout the venue.

All Images: Ian Kingsnorth Photography

CCD proposed a holistic solution that introduced a narrative layer, serving as a bridge between the functional and the emotional elements of the gallery experience.

Key to the brief was enticing and attracting visitors to Tate St Ives, help give them their bearings (once inside) and create a unique sense of place, all whilst providing cohesion between written and visual elements and the iconic design of the gallery. In the context of the Tate brand, the design of the wayfinding system needed to be minimal and elegant, yet effective and visible.

In order to do that the CCD team travelled to St Ives to research the area and immerse ourselves in the ‘art centre of the Southwest’. We ran a series of workshops with Tate staff to find out what works in the space and what could work better from an operational perspective. We also ran a few creative tasks to kickstart a collaborative design approach and to really understand what our client was conceptually drawn to.

Our research phase also included a holistic analysis of the visitor experience and identified the different user types that visit the gallery. These varied depending on the season and school holidays, and included families with young children, non-English speakers, visitors with reduced mobility, wheelchair users and groups, as well as locals and Tate members.

These exercises helped us gain an incredible amount of knowledge about the Tate and the different gallery users that visit the space, before, during and after their gallery experience. In turn, it enabled us to identify and anticipate pain points, as well as create opportunities to design new interventions that will nudge the conversation between the gallery and its visitors. This analysis enabled us to map all the different questions and needs that each visitor might have and ensure that these were met with a holistic solution.


A trial period allowed us to test our designs in-situ, ensuring that visitors were taken on a holistic journey through the galleries and that it addressed the needs of staff. This testing phase meant the final solution was fool-proof and what was installed met the needs of the brief.

We oversaw the procurement, manufacture and installation of the permanent system. This has included a value engineering exercise to reduce the price point of the signs. On behalf of our client we managed all quotations and budgets to ensure overspends are avoided. This resulted in significant savings equating to 60%.