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Lan Su Chinese Garden

Quantity Produced


Production Cost


Production Time

4 weeks

Dimensions (Width × Height × Depth)

5 in × 7.5 in

Page Count

12 + cover

Paper Stock

Cover: Classic Crest 80 lb cover, Saw Grass
Interior: Cougar Opaque 80 lb text

Number of Colors

CMYK + 2 spot inks



Saddle stitch


CG Geometric Bold
LHF Garner
AT Handle Oldstyle


Communicating with a large group of people is not easy, which is why designers can turn to information graphics to help them deliver the necessary information in ways that can cross barriers such as language and culture.

Designing a new visitor guide for the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon involved learning about Chinese culture, finding production techniques that worked hard for the money and reinforced the Garden’s purpose, and of course many trips to the Tea House to gaze out upon Lake Zither and ponder one’s existence.

At first glance, the cover has a die-cut window that frames original Chinese scroll artwork and the phrase “Enter the Wonderland”, which is the inscription on the first doorway inside the garden - all cues that the visitor is stepping into another worldview; one that places emphasis on nature to find true meaning. Throughout the guide, specific items such as the bat-shaped tiles and the Lake Tai rocks were illustrated to help visitors identify and understand the purpose behind the individual elements in the garden. Chinese inscriptions were translated to reinforce the use of poetry, and certain pages call out major themes universal to Chinese Gardens.

Keeping people oriented in the space was very important, since the garden is a labyrinth both physically and conceptually. A birds eye view map was created to make sure visitors didn’t feel lost and were easily able to explore every nook and cranny of the garden without having a linear path to follow. Key ‘vistas’ could easily be found on the tiered index-style pages, while the map is located on a flap that can always be at the ready without having to flip through the guide. The guide is on the small side so it could easily be put in a purse or be held by a single hand.

Part way through the design process the guide was tested in the garden with visitors to make sure it was both functional and informational. Since rolling out the guide and other collateral for the Garden’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, Lan Su visitors’ comments have been overwhelmingly positive.

If you haven’t had enough of the nicely muted color scheme, and the poetic catchphrases, you can watch a short video of the brochure, which also gives you a sense of proportion.

Lan Su Visitor Guide ---Lan Su Visitor Guide ---Lan Su Visitor Guide ---Lan Su Visitor Guide ---Lan Su Visitor Guide ---Lan Su Visitor Guide ---Lan Su Visitor Guide


Recent Posts



Lan Su Visitor Guide


Production Method



Sockeye Creative
Creative Director: Peter Metz
Account Director: Erin O'Brien
Production Manager: Shellie Anderson
Writing: Norm Sajovie

Design: Bureau of Betterment



Brown Printing

This post was published in the original layout of FPO so all images are smaller. Project descriptions as well as production lessons are quoted in the main content area.

Post Author


Author Picture

Bryony Gomez-Palacio

Editor of FPO and co-founder of UnderConsideration LLC.

More: Online / On Twitter


Date Published

August 23, 2010


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UnderConsideration is a graphic design firm generating its own projects, initiatives, and content while taking on limited client work. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Bloomington, IN. More…

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