Design is everywhere – from the most intricate of ad campaigns to road signs in the street. Graphic resource company Streamline understands that better than most. The company is dedicated to creating icons and other vector assets to be distributed as needed in design across the globe, with an impressive breadth of choice. The latest release particularly caught our eye thanks to how it challenges norms and conventions in ‘everyday’ design, such as in wayfinding.
“Signage icons, in general, are stuck in the past,” says Jero García, lead designer at Streamline. “New needs are constantly emerging and are not reflected in signs as pioneering and obsolete as those developed by AIGA and the U.S. Department of Transportation during the 70s.” With this spark for change, Streamline developed Guidance, an icon set (of 360 signage icons!) that reflects the dynamic nature and diversity of modern society. Staying on top of the design discourse, Streamline will update the set as new concepts and ideas arise to ensure that it remains current and relevant.
Most evident in this icon set is its nod to the brutalist and natural aesthetics. Simple geometric shapes catch our eye with a flurry of sharp angles and straight lines, often complimented by a soft colour palette. “We always temperate this utilitarian and severe style with the more organic shapes, curvy and elegant, inspired by the organic shapes of nature,” says Streamline founder Vincent Le Moign. “Although these concepts may sound too abstract, they were our main excuses to build this icon set,” Jero explains. Streamline's intention for creating the icon set, Guidance, was to avoid a bland and impersonal design. By incorporating a combination of geometric lines and concave curves, the company was able to develop a unique system that remains easily readable while providing a visually appealing aesthetic. “After all, the ultimate goal is to guide people through a physical space,” Jero says.
Jero was working with the team on the project for around four months, some of which were spent trying to define the formal characteristics of the set. “We started working with a small sample of about 12 icons and trying different variations until we hit the right key,” he tells us. “We have been working with Figma as our only tool for a long time, it is the perfect home for icon designers.”
By designing icons that are inclusive and diverse, Streamline has expanded its potential audience. Icons are a universal language, making it crucial to create designs that can be easily understood by a wide range of individuals. “We always took into account what makes a good signage project, such as clarity and legibility, but it is also important to communicate values of inclusion and diversity,” Jero adds. “Which is why we dedicated a whole category to accessibility icons and tried to move away from stereotypes such as the static wheelchair user through the use of more dynamic shapes.” This approach not only improves the overall design, but also reflects a more dynamic, interesting and inclusive society.
GalleryStreamline: Guidance (Copyright © Streamline, 2023)
Streamline: Guidance (Copyright © Streamline, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.