I’m proud to say that I was part of designing what will soon become the first high quality icons available for use by anyone, that signify Farmer’s Markets and Guerilla Gardening. That’s the sort of feeling that brought a smile to each of the attendees as they drove home from Saturday’s Iconathon event.
Iconathon is an initiative to collaboratively design new civic symbols for the public domain, created by a partnership between Code for America and The Noun Project. The purpose is to create universal symbols that are easy to understand, to help spread these ideas across the globe. The Noun Project reminds me of a TED talk that asks the question, “Is it our destiny to become one world with one language?”
They’re currently traveling through the US hosting day-long collaborative workshops to design symbols around a specific theme. Saturday’s event was Food & Nutrition. They’ll be traveling through Boston, Chicago and New York to design symbols for the topics Democracy, Education and Transportation, after which they’ll be releasing all the icons at once, so keep an eye out.
The event started with a presentation on the state of nutrition in california by Amanda Shaffer from the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. She went over some interesting, concerning, and hopeful facts about food and nutrition in our state, then explained the ways in which these symbols we create might be used.
Following was a presentation on Designing Effective Symbols by Edward Boatman, co-founder & Creative Director of The Noun Project (top photo of blog post). It was a very helpful presentation that included specific dos and don’ts of symbol design. I highly suggest you attend an Iconathon event if you’re interested in symbol design.
We had a quick lunch on location, at Atwater Crossing Wood Fire Kitchen, where all of us had wood fire baked flatbread pizza with fresh ingredients. I ordered a Ratatouille Flatbread, which had tomato, eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, goat cheese, onion, and pistou. Yum.
After lunch, we split up into smaller groups and tackled some civic symbol design for a few hours. As I mentioned earlier, our group worked on the symbol for Farmer’s Markets. Each group had a good mix of designers, food & nutrition experts, and other civic minded people. Because the purpose of designing symbols is to make it easy to understand to all, it’s very important that people who have no knowledge of design or the topic attend Iconathon; I thought that made the event very interesting.
At the end, we all got together and presented a total of about twenty symbols to each other, many of which will turn into high quality symbols available on the Noun Project Website. They’ll be releasing these symbols after their tour, we’ll make sure to let you know when they’re available.