IED Firenze Graphic Design Student Explores Cultural Fusion and Exchange Through Bilingual Signage in Prato’s Chinatown

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Beatrice Murphy, IED Firenze Master Student

Amidst the cobblestone streets of Chinatown in Prato, Italy, typography has become a bridge between worlds. Beatrice Murphy, a student in the Master’s Course in Graphic Design at Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Firenze, developed her thesis project by examining and dissecting the bilingual signage of Prato’s Chinatown. Her project aimed to not only reveal numbers and data but also instances of human connection and diversity.

Beatrice Murphy, IED Firenze Master Student

Through a series of booklets and graphic materials, Beatrice transports us into the bustling streets of the neighborhood and its storefronts. Each page of her graphic research offers a glimpse into the soul of her hometown, capturing the daily rhythm of life in photographs and an archive of insights and infographics.

In Prato’s Chinatown, tradition intertwines with innovation and Chinese typography converges with the Italian language in dazzling displays of visual creativity. Beatrice categorized and transcribed more than 90 bilingual store signs, adopting a taxonomic font-based system. Her project is intended to illuminate the intricate dance between these two distinct cultures, celebrating the richness and complexity of Prato’s multicultural identity.

Beatrice Murphy, IED Firenze Master Student

The booklets are bound together by a symbolic red thread—a nod to Prato’s textile heritage—inviting readers to contemplate the interconnectedness of cultures and how diversity enriches our collective experience.

In this graphic exploration of language, signage, and cultural exchange, Beatrice hopes to remind us of the power of human connection and the beauty of diversity in our increasingly interconnected world—a narrative that speaks to the universal longing for understanding and belonging.

Beatrice Murphy, IED Firenze Master Student

Graphic design has transcended its traditional boundaries, becoming a powerful tool to promote inclusivity and diversity. As the media landscape continues to evolve, so does the responsibility of graphic designers to ensure that their work reflects and embraces the richness and complexity of human experiences.

Beatrice Murphy created her work through the Master’s Course in Graphic Design at IED Firenze. Now in its 13th edition, the program works with international students every year to develop unique narratives and study visual languages in a global setting. It hopes to offer a sensitive space for students to communicate their perspectives on important social matters and engage within the current landscape of the graphic design community.

To learn more about the Master’s Course in Graphic Design at IED Firenze, visit ied.edu.

Beatrice Murphy, IED Firenze Master Student

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