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A formidable partnership: In conversation with Julian Maynard, MD, Maynard Design


Maynard Design recently acquired Transport Design Consultancy, the firm behind the Riyadh and Dubai Metros as well as the Abu Dhabi city street signage. We speak to Julian Maynard, Managing Director, Maynard Design to learn more about the acquisition and what this means for transport design in the region

In March, Maynard Group has announced the acquisition of Transport Design Consultancy (TDC), a move to build a leading international transport design practice across the globe.

With this merger, Maynard Design Group has become the most experienced multi-disciplinary design consultancy in the transport sector with over 400 projects delivered in 17 countries combined over the last 20 years, positively impacting over 3.5 billion journeys taken by people every year.

“Tony Howard [founder of TDC] and I have known each other for over 25 years and have worked together on several projects including the Ashford International Railway Station in the UK,” Julian reveals.

“We also worked on projects in Australia and New Zealand. Once we realised how well we work together, we thought it’d be a natural fit to combine our experience of wayfinding branding and product design together to offer our clients a truly worldwide service and experience.”

Combined, the group offers services in branding, wayfinding and product design for the transport, aviation, public realm, culture, education, healthcare, commercial and residential sectors in the UK and Europe, as well as the Middle East, India, and Australasia.

He adds: “Acquiring TDC is a huge step towards our ambition of offering our expert and technical services globally. Our focus on the interaction of people, places, and products together with our locations of the UK, Australia and New Zealand fits naturally together with TDC’s transport and wayfinding expertise and long-standing client relationships in the Middle East and Asia.

“Our shared values of collaboration, commitment and passion for detail and extensive wealth of technical skills and track record mean that, going forward, clients will benefit from a deeper level of understanding and experience coupled with a more comprehensive global reach. We are currently reviewing opportunities to expand into North America and Canada to offer clients our multidisciplinary and global expertise in transport.”

With the merger complete, Julian is bidding on larger projects with a wider focus in the Middle East and Asia. He notes: “We’re looking at opportunities in Saudi Arabia and India, as well as biometric projects in mass transit.”

Localisation and culture
Maynard Design hopes to get a local team onboard to handle operations in the region. Julian is of the option that localisation in wayfinding is vital. “There is so much requirement for infrastructure around the world. It’s essential to understand the local culture and the needs of those users and working environments in those countries.”

He adds: “And that’s why we try to work with people who are maybe from that country, or have direct experience of working in those environments, because I think people are more invested in the project if it’s their home city.”

Wayfinding design complexities
Speaking about complexities of wayfinding design for mass transit systems, Julian shares that the scale of public transport infrastructure has evolved to include multiple modes of transport in a single hub. He explains: Transportation hubs have gotten larger over years. It’s because of good planning. We no longer have a train station here, a bus station there, a metro and a cycle way or ferry line down the road. We’re now combing all these hubs into one at a central location which is accessible to all.”

Transport authorities are now focusing on giving people multiple modes of transportation to choose from at a single location. He adds: “Connectivity is so important for the future sustainability of cities. Governments are trying to get people out of their cars and make the travel experience in public transport as convenient as possible.”

This makes wayfinding design even more complex and critical to the success of mass transit systems. If the signage is not simple and clear enough for people to find their way, they won’t use public transport. Which is why understanding customer passenger experience throughout their journey, is important to Maynard Design.

“What we do is we try and look at the touch points. Is it the ticketing? Is it a family with prams trying find a lift to get down to platform level? It’s all the of those different user groups that we have to understand when we’re designing a wayfinding system and designing products and interactions,” Julian explains.

Wayfinding is not just about signs, he remarks. “Signs are just one part of it. Playing with environments or graphics, one’s understanding, and working with the architectural design teams on understanding that space is also wayfinding. We look into transforming a space, bringing in natural light so people can see the signs and the paths they want to take right away.”

“Lighting is a crucial element of wayfinding,” says Julian. “People need to see where the elevators and escalators are. There’s a lot of different elements, which enables people to navigate through buildings. It’s not just about signs,” he reiterates.

Planet first
On the topic of sustainability, the company’s strength in designing global transportation networks saves millions of carbon emissions yearly.

With its work in Dubai alone, through reduced car journeys the company has helped to save over 900,000 litres of fuel per day.

Julian concludes: “Between us we have a huge heritage and track record, but we are also constantly innovating and significantly contributing to sustainability programmes. After all, the projects we work on span several years, and then once delivered need to last several decades.

“As such we are directly impacting billions of people who move through the places we have helped to design. These people will never fully know the energy and commitment we have invested in such projects to make their experience the best it can possibly be – but they are the core focus of ours from day one.

“With the Maynard and TDC teams coming together and by adding further insight and expertise as we continue to grow, we can go on steering the sector into the future and, in doing so, further enrich the lives of people, the journeys they take and the places they interact with.”

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