Sign Effectz Elevates SoNa Lofts: A Fusion of Industrial Chic and Steampunk Aesthetics in Innovative Signage Design

Sign Effectz Elevates SoNa Lofts: A Fusion of Industrial Chic and Steampunk Aesthetics in Innovative Signage Design缩略图

Sign Effectz crafted unique steampunk-inspired unit ID signs to accompany the ADA.

Mandel Group, a real estate development and management firm, recently enlisted the expertise of Sign Effectz, Inc., a custom sign manufacturer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the fabrication and installation of diverse signage for their newly opened SoNa Lofts apartment community in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Inspired by the industrial heritage of the area, SoNa Lofts combines a modern interpretation with an “industrial chic” aesthetic. In collaboration with Sign Effectz, renowned for their work being “Built for Resilience,” Mandel Group aimed to create signage that not only complemented the property but also sparked conversations about its unique aesthetics.

Due to impending occupancy inspections, the sign project was strategically divided into phases. The immediate focus centered on the timely delivery of custom ADA signage for the property. Adam Brown, president of Sign Effectz, explained that the selection of materials aligned with the modern industrial theme, leading to a distinctive sign design.


Shop drawing of the hanging steampunk-inspired unit ID sign.

Sign Effectz meticulously crafted over 300 steel-plated ADA interior room identification signs, seamlessly integrating them with the SoNa Lofts surroundings while ensuring compliance. To meet local ADA code requirements, acrylic backer panels were added to the steel plates, serving as the primary material for interior wayfinding and ADA signs.

These ADA-compliant unit ID signs were affixed to interior walls near each door using 3M double VHB tape. Beyond compliance, Sign Effectz seized the opportunity presented by the unique rooflines and high ceilings of each apartment to introduce creative and exciting elements.

Convincing Mandel Group to embrace creativity, Sign Effectz designed and installed chain-hung metal signs throughout the facility, drawing inspiration from the popular retrofuturistic steampunk aesthetic. Prior to production, the company thoroughly vetted finish and fabrication techniques, ensuring a blend of rust samples, hammered metal, wide flange nuts, bolts, and rivets.


The steampunk unit ID sign is attached to the light sconce above and complements the ADA-compliant sign below.

The resulting steampunk metal signs, resembling artifacts forged in a fantastical realm, featured laser-cut steel plates with gun-bluing finishes, accented by bold “mule”-style aluminum rivets. These signs were suspended from sconce light fixtures using light-duty chains, coexisting with ADA-compliant unit ID wall signs below them.

Adam Brown highlighted a growing trend in ADA signage — the incorporation of dimension and texture. Sign Effectz embraced this trend, utilizing multi-layered signs with added materials like acrylic, textiles, metals, and plastics. This approach allows for creative freedom without exceeding budget constraints, offering a visually engaging alternative to standard text and Braille signs.

Future phases of the project will see Sign Effectz involved in creating illuminated exterior signs, rooftop channel letters attached to a steel frame, and three custom monument signs on the property. The ongoing collaboration promises a seamless blend of creativity, compliance, and functionality in SoNa Lofts’ signage.