Utilizing different textures and materials can really make a sign stand out. Whether the texture is applied to the substrate/mounting surface, the letters themselves, or as a decorative element, it can really add depth and character to a sign or signage system. Here are a few examples and links that I've compiled.
It's great to see sign examples that not only consider the sign letters themselves, but the substrates they are mounted to. I love the sign for The Getty Center. The live wall behind the pinned-off letters is great. Sometimes the substrate can offer a nice contrast in surface to make the sign really stand out.
Here is a fun, permanent shade structure that I designed to accommodate retail signage at 701 Eden Street in Baltimore. Not only does it provide shade, it also adds texture and a simple mounting detail for entrance signs.
I also really like the creativity behind this art exhibition entrance. It was for Royal College of Art Summer Show in 2007. The 2008 show entrance is also amazing and larger than life, literally.
Here is another example of how I've used texture to my advantage with my designs. The number 3 is a level indicator for a painted concrete wall in a parking garage elevator lobby at Harbor East in Baltimore. I selected a bright wall color for the plain concrete block wall and designed a sleek cut-out brushed aluminum number that is pinned off of the wall surface. The contrast really makes the number pop.
Using an architectural metal mesh material or custom perforated metal can also add texture to your designs. There are many sites that sell this material including Banker+Wire and Cambridge Architectural Metal.
Here are 40'+ painted perforated metal banners that I designed for tenants at Harbor East. This gave the more permanent anchor tenants a presence along Fleet Street. Most of the traffic flow travels along Fleet. Even though these anchors didn't have storefronts along the main street, they had an opportunity to advertise their location in the project. The perforated metal provides a lightness and translucency that is unique and eye-catching.
You can also use the perforated metal as a letter face. This allows the letter to be a solid color during the day, but light up internally at night. I used this technique for the two signs below.
You can also add texture to your designs as a decorative element. At Maple Lawn in Columbia, MD, I was inspired by all of the maple trees they intended on planting in the community. It was a perfect opportunity to incorporate the maple leaf motif in my signage. The cut out leaf pattern of various maple leaves painted to match the sign frame was a subtle detail that really made the sign system unique. The maple leaf brackets for the sign panels on all directional and way-finding signs pulled the theme together.
I hope that these examples inspire textural creativity in your designs. Feel free to post comments or inquiries about my posts. It's always nice to get other opinions that could be both helpful and inspirational!