Michael Haug

Michael HaugMichael Haug


Larsen, a communications design agency, provides branding insight to architectural ideas and design. Based on our 35-year history of working with a wide range of companies, we have…

What is the role of your service or specialty in the development of today’s leading architectural ideas?

Larsen, a communications design agency, provides branding insight to architectural ideas and design. Based on our 35-year history of working with a wide range of companies, we have learned how to effectively present messaging in a variety of media — including displays, graphics, wayfinding, and signage. Our goal is to partner with clients to develop environments that focus on the end user, their needs, and the client’s desired outcomes. Through high quality concepts and design detail, Larsen seamlessly incorporates graphics with respect for architectural integrity.

What are the latest innovative developments that you are working on?

Digital multimedia, as part of branded environments and signage solutions, is the hot topic right now. Clients are enthusiastic about the potential impact and flexibility. For example, users can change languages at the push of a button or alter other desired information themselves. As consumers become more familiar with the technologies available to them, they will expect to find a touch screen and dynamic imagery in every public space, ready to provide the information they need. Videos, animation, and sound can be programmed into these displays and have the potential to make a huge impact.


How can consultants and collaborative firms push the boundaries of what is possible in advancing innovative design and architecture?

The old adage “two heads are better than one” could have been written about the design process. New ideas don’t just happen; they are built from new perceptions often combined with past experiences. Larsen brings expertise in branding, communication, and storytelling. Our process and expectations of what makes an environment successful are different from, and complementary to, an architect’s.

An example is the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN. We were hired before an architecture firm was selected and asked to help define the user experience. We created a series of imaginary clients (personas); fabricated scenarios, stories, and pathways for each; and proposed different ways that activities might occur in the space. This exercise influenced the architect’s design of the building in a way that supported the client’s desired outcomes.

Explain how your expertise was used in and contributed to the success of a particular project?

One of Larsen’s favorite case studies is the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It represents high-end design created for a famous theater company, working with an internationally renowned architect, and solving some very tricky wayfinding challenges—all resolved by thinking outside the box. The assignment required intense examination of how the audience would arrive and traverse the space, where and how they would cross it at different times during their visit, and how to best support their circulation. The design had to go beyond typical signage to integrate with the building’s contemporary, minimalist interior. Larsen used LCD monitors, LED displays, and audio messages in the four-story escalator to update visitors on the ever-changing theater schedule.

Larsen’s expertise was tapped early enough in the process that we could make these elements work with the architectural design rather than be treated as an afterthought. When involved at the beginning, a design partner like Larsen advocates for users of the space and can add significant value to the project. We know when, where, and how to communicate messages and provide navigational cues. Our perception and point of view enhances the visitor experience.

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