Docks en Seine Signage by Nicolas Vrignaud


French designer Nicolas Vrignaud has designed the signage for a building comprising a fashion school, shopping centre, exhibition hall and restaurants on the banks of the Seine in Paris.

Created for the development (called DOCKS en Seine) by architects Jakob+MacFarlane, the signs wrap around the existing concrete structure.

Vrignaud designed the project in collaboration with architect Lorenzo Ascani and graphic designer Fanny Naranjo.

Here's some more information from Vrignaud:


The signage intervention in the building DOCKS en Seine plays with the usual needs of signage and with the context.

The building is a sign. It participates in the urban renewal of the 13th district of Paris and it becomes one moment along the Seine, as a sequence, a cursor.

This signage project is based on this idea of sequence and also on the idea of promenade, of wandering.

The preconception of this signage project is to punctuate this horizontal movement by "beacons", and to create a declension on four levels since the access at the bank level of the Seine towards the rooftop.

The fact of preserve and renovate the existing building keeping the concrete structure offers the support of the signage system, which is as a moulding of this structure, to create a new relation with the architecture.

It takes place at different points: circulation, shop, communication, etc.

These moulds called "plugs", are separated from their support to become independents. Every plug is unique. They are grouped by type according to their application.

The plugs are used like billboards all along the building, and the graphic design, in opposition to the Plugs, could evolve according to the visual identity.

DOCKS en SEINE, Cité de la Mode et du Design
Shops, restaurants, fashion school, exhibition hall.
Quai d'Austerlitz, Paris 13
12400 m2
Architects : jakob & MacFarlane
Signage design : Nicolas VRIGNAUD (with Lorenzo Ascani architect, & Fanny Naranjo Graphic designer)
client : Icade

Posted on Thursday October 29th 2009 at 9:48 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Redfern

    Vrignaud’s text explaining this project seems to have been lost in translation. The photos could have shown the actual signage more closely so it could be read to be properly appreciated – they are definitely difficult to see from far away. I wonder how effective that would be for, say, the large amount of people associated with the exhibition space.

    It is difficult to differentiate the different uses of the spaces shown in the photos – a fashion school, shopping centre, exhibition hall and restaurants but maybe this has more to do with the architecture.

    I like the way it wraps around the concrete structure.

  • great synergy between signage & architecture – now I want to see more pics of the actual building…

  • R

    That last picture scared the hell out of me! The other pictures kept me in the soothing believe that it was just an old warehouse with a beautiful concrete structure that was renovated. Then all of a sudden the building turnes around and her real ugly face is shown.

    The signage looks very nice; also the way it deals with the existing structure. But Redfern has a valid point on legibility.

  • pine tree

    I have seen this building in reality and found the signage quite overbearing and impossible to understand. The colours chosen for it are really nice but from a different hue to Jacob + McFarlane’s intervention and they dont sit well together.
    Above all it seems to me that the concept of ‘wandering’ and signage won’t make a happy couple.

  • The signs have a creative relationship with the (old ?) structure. And even with the river itself. Kind of remind me those marks made by the water in the canal’s retaining wall.

  • klejdi eski

    It’s so MTV…sorry :-)

  • aeolus

    Really like the concept of wrapping the signs around the structure rather than hanging them, but, as was mentioned, the lettering is way to small I would think and perhaps too sophisticated for the general public.

  • @ pine tree , i’m sorry bu i dunnot understand what is this building for?

  • pine tree

    @ Prof Z.
    It is a fashion centre, with exhibition and commercial space.
    Here is a link to the architects
    and the french fashion institute which explain more.

  • It really softens the Brut concrete style. Which is quite necessary.

  • Nicolas vrignaud

    The building is not a fashion centre, it’s a mall with a fashion school, an exhibition hall, shops and restaurants.
    For the moment there’s no shop insalled except The fashion school.
    What is missing on the pannels is the name of the future shops , we don’t have them yet.
    And @ Pine tree, i don’t understand why it’s “quite overbearing”.
    We have chosen the colors with the architect to not repeat the same structure color.
    you are very lucky if you visited the building which is closed!!

  • Redfern

    I’m inclined to agree with R, that the final photo shows this architectural project’s uglier side. And Pine Tree has a point that the colours of the signage and Jakob & Macfarlane’s intervention have an uneasy relationship. In my opinion, Vrignaud’s colour selection far outshines that of the architects.
    It would be great to see photos of this signage project when it is functioning and open to the public.

  • thomas gravemaker

    I do think that the lettering is yet again bad. The graphic designer doesn’t seem to have an idea of how to do that well. Legibility is as always in France the problem. The black small type doesn’t stand out on the different greens. Johannes Itten’s colour theories should have been read before taking such a job on. And the bla bla bla of the ‘signage designer’ is soo French.

  • christian Delpal

    I am interestred by your OPERA
    could you send me the price
    best regards