Following our look at the toilet sign ideograms in this week’s Lecture, we set about creating our own. We began by using graph paper to plan out our designs, which forced us to think about our work within the constraints of a grid (just as designers before us were constrained by the tools of the time). When sketching out the male / female symbols for my sign, I aimed for it to be a relatively abstract sign suitable for western culture; I also aimed to use similar shapes and styles across the two ‘people’ as a means of matching them as a set. I had to try out a few different styles before I found one that conveyed seemed to work well.
This week the lecture opened with an introduction to the differences between pictograms and ideograms. A pictogram being a representation of something in the real world (often with a visual resemblance), while an ideogram is a symbol which has had it’s meaning agreed upon and doesn’t necessarily represent something in the real world. The example given by Stuart was that of the ‘red cross’ and the ‘red crescent’ as ideograms, representing not a literal red object, but rather as agreed upon symbols of the relevant organisations.
While pictograms generally have a real-world basis, they are by no means objective. One way this was demonstrated to use in considering the well-known mapping of the London Underground which was originally designed by Harry Beck. This manner of displaying the train line was considered radical at the time, and disregarded geographical accuracy in favour of visual clarity. Although the pictogram represented the real-world train system, it’s overall style was influenced moreso by the circuitry diagrams familiar to Back and the tools he used at the time (which produced straight lines and 45˚angles).