ZD Studio Inc., an internationally recognized design firm, created a logo for State Street and banners to decorate the light posts. According to Susan Schmitz, president of Downtown Madison Inc., the design team did a “good job” fitting the new signage on the street in with the old.
“They really understand State Street as a historical area and that sense of place,” Schmitz said. “They understand all those dynamics. They understand that what makes the street come alive are the store fronts and people on the street.”
Madison’s ZD Studio is currently working on the new crew house near the Lakeshore residence halls and helped design the Camp Randall Stadium logo, according to company Vice President Melanie Kranz.
Kranz said the reconstruction of State Street — from the light posts to the State Street logo — adds to the history of the city.
“We are starting to develop a history and celebrate State Street and recognize this as a really important part of our community,” Kranz said.
ZD Studios Inc. President Mark Schmitz said the design of the older light posts and the modern seasonal banners hanging from them feature a unique combination. The “twinkle lights” brighten the banners and are also a special feature.
“We wanted to bring a romance to State Street,” Mark Schmitz said.
Susan Schmitz said it remains important for businesses like the Orpheum Theater to take care of their signage. Schmitz said it would be nice to restore the Orpheum sign to its original state when the theater opened in 1927 with marquee lights outlining the long sign.
“That’s part of history — those signs are as important as the building,” she said. “It illustrates how important signs are in a pedestrian historic area like State Street.”
Susan Schmitz said even small “sandwich signs,” the folding sidewalk signs advertising the lunch specials outside restaurants like Sunroom Café, are distinctive and give State Street a European flair.
“Without those, it looks like a shopping mall,” Susan Schmitz said. “This really gives character to State Street.”
Susan Schmitz said signs such as the animated one outside Badger Liquor would not be designed for a new business today. The fact that it says “ice cubes” and associates a school mascot with liquor makes it unique, Schmitz added.
The vintage Badger Liquor sign is the only sign in Madison that is neon and animated, according to manager Andrew Beaulieu. Electric drips fall from a bottle on the sign, but an ordinance does not allow neon signs — at least of that size — in the city currently, Beaulieu added.
According to Susan Schmitz, the redesign of State Street addressed unnecessary signage issues on State Street. Many blocks were cluttered with irrelevant signs for a pedestrian mall, Schmitz added, citing 30 signs on one block.
“We get so many tourists to our city every year, and we are trying to help them navigate through the city and through State Street,” Kranz said.