A New Chapter for Event Signage

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Sustainability, safety and flexibility allowed SIGNWAVE to deliver signage in keeping with Sydney Writer’s Festival’s core values in the midst of a pandemic

SWF Newtown


A new chapter for event signage

Sustainability, safety and flexibility allowed SIGNWAVE to deliver signage in keeping with Sydney Writer’s Festival’s core values in the midst of a pandemic

Sydney Writers’ Festival is one of the world’s leading and most beloved literary institutions. It is a place for readers, writers and thinkers to share ideas, tell stories and celebrate literature.

For many years, SIGNWAVE Newtown has partnered with the event and produced signage for this annual celebration that is very much a part of the city’s cultural fabric. The last two years, however, have seen some notable changes in delivery as the festival evolves and as it adapts to COVID-19 restrictions.

In harmony with the environment

Each year, Sydney Writer’s Festival strives to adopt business practices that actively reduce the event’s carbon footprint. Likewise, SIGNWAVE is also committed to continually exploring new environmentally friendly resources, designs and applications.

Sydney Writer’s Festival takes place at Carriageworks, a heritage site built between 1880 and 1889 as part of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. As a result, there are strict rules regarding displays and installation to which SIGNWAVE must adhere.

“As a general rule, to do its job, signage needs to stand out. However, the displays we create for Sydney Writer’s Festival are designed to both be seen and to blend in to ensure the aesthetic is sympathetic to the site,” said Trevor Vyner, co-owner, SIGNWAVE Newtown. “We created self- supporting signs, so they didn’t require fixing to the building, and we utilised pre-approved adhesives and vinyls.”

Furthermore, 95 percent of the festival’s signage was recycled. High-quality (rather than disposable) pull up banners were used, re-skinned and re-used. A corflute recycle program also allows SIGNWAVE Newtown to save the festival’s corflute signage from ending up in landfill at the conclusion of the week-long event each year. Instead, the polypropylene corflute is completely recycled so nothing goes to waste.

COVID safety and contingencies

In April 2021, COVID-19 created a highly volatile environment for the events industry. Rules and restrictions about public gatherings were changing on a daily basis. Sydney Writer’s Festival had to follow new safety laws, be compliant with contact tracing requirements and impart ever-changing rules to everyone on site. This meant that much of the signage could not be finalised until the week of the event.

Sydney Writer’s Festival persisted in the face of potential lockdown. Working with SIGNWAVE Newtown, 60% of the signage was produced weeks before the event, which created capacity so the remaining signs could be produced at the last minute. Anything promoting dates, safety instructions such a social distancing rules, QR codes, queuing systems and floor details were produced last.

Attitude is everything

The subsequent success of the 2021 Sydney Writer’s Festival was a triumph for events in a post- pandemic world. The commitment and collaboration between SIGNWAVE Newtown and the Festival team gave the event the best chance of running smoothly.

“Both parties leaned into the need to prepare for the unknown by creating capacity, through forward thinking and design thinking,” said Trevor Vyner.

“It’s the spirit of our partnership – passionate, motivated people committed to the same community – and that is what is required to navigate these uncertain times and to find new ways of achieving our goals.”

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