Portland Japanese Garden

Experience Design and Wayfinding

Guiding visitors through cultural connections


To connect visitors to the culture, place and values of the Portland Japanese Garden, we designed a holistic visitor-experience including wayfinding, interpretive design and visitor services—rooted in ethnographic research.


World-renowned architect, Kengo Kuma, designed the Garden’s expansion which has led to an influx of new visitors—and new challenges and opportunities related to wayfinding, behavior, and protection of resources.


In order to understand the root of visitor challenges, we studied their behavior through data analysis, spatial mapping and stakeholder and visitor interviews. The Garden’s passionate and knowledgable staff and volunteers were critical partners and present-day champions of the work.

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We identified a mis-alignment between people’s mental model of the Garden, the design concept for the expansion, and the existing condition.
We proposed a series of design interventions to establish clear expectations and reinforce the legibility for 3 zones: the Entrance, the Village and the Gardens.


The design concepts range from signage and graphics to new visitor services and amenities.

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We look forward to ongoing collaboration with the Portland Japanese Garden to bring these design opportunities to life.