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It all started in
an auto parts store.

When Kathy Kelley graduated from with a degree in graphic design, she never thought that her first job out of college would be to design a store that would completely alter the automotive aftermarket. But that is exactly what happened. Think back to what an autoparts store used to look like in 1979. Picture a dirty shop with a counter where you told a serviceperson what you needed. Certainly not a place where a woman would want to shop. That all changed when Kathy and a female architect designed the prototype for AutoZone and today— over 40 years later—that revolutionary store design remains the same.

Store design led to interpretives
and then to architectural design.

In 2000, K Design was approached to design the panda exhibit at the Memphis Zoo. The success of this project led her to design exhibits and signage for zoos across the country. K Design prides itself on creating signs that people will actually read so they can get the “big idea” for the exhibit. Today,
K Design works with zoos, nature centers, and museums to create exhibits and signs that get the story across in an engaging way. In 2012, K Design began bidding on projects for architectural signage. Having a designer’s eye, Kathy Kelley brings a unique set of talents to every job that she undertakes.

K Design has the certifications
that contractors need.

K Design has been certified by WBENC South as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE), by Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and by Shelby County as a Locally-owned Small Business (LOSB). Having K Design on your team could help you get your next big job.


K Design Signs & Exhibits was founded in 1984 to provide interpretive, architectural, and wayfinding sign systems to zoos, museum, nature centers, towns, and commercial contractors. Our services include:​​

  • Interpretive Planning

  • Leading a Design Charrette

  • Exhibit Evaluation

  • Graphic Logo Design

  • Interpretive Exhibit Design

  • Research

  • Text Writing

  • Photo and Artifact Research and Collection

  • Illustration

  • Interactive Design Elements

  • Project Management

  • Exhibit Fabrication

  • Installation


Kathy Kelley, Designer, Project Manager

Kathy Kelley is the owner of K Design Signs & Exhibits, a Memphis-based firm specializing in interpretive graphics, wayfinding systems and architectural signage. Kathy is an award-winning designer with more than 40 years of experience. She has designed and installed exhibitions and signs for zoos, museums, nature centers and businesses throughout the United States. She is careful not to let design “get in the way” of the end result — helping the public learn from signs that are easy to read.

O 901.523.2828  |  M 901.210.8680

Cheryl Piropato, Interpretive Writer, Project Manager

For 30 years, Cheryl Piropato helped craft exciting, engaging exhibits in her role as Education Director at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo which has repeatedly been named one of the nation’s “Top Ten Zoos for Kids” by Parents magazine. With a knack for knowing what visitors enjoy, Cheryl is able to write and create simple yet effective signs on a small budget. Having created interpretive plans for several zoos, she uses formative evaluation, interactives, tactile signs and educational curriculum to make sure the big idea is revealed.

O 260.445.6955

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