17 June 2008

design for the world : push/pull proposal

push and pull — pictograms in need.
to save the world – probably not.

i've always said i wanted to save the world. but i presume it will just have to wait a few years. proposals, sketches and ideas we're recently accepted by the organization, Design for the World in Barcelona, to solve the push/pull problem.

"Nowadays many different cultures share equal or similar codified systems of pictograms, but none of them express the “push-pull” function. In order to illustrate which way a door opens it is necessary to use words, even written in different alphabets, which vary according to the language of a given country.

Our intention as the NGO Design for the World, and in accordance with the aim expressed by our name, is to offer the world a new pictogram which would fill this gap. This is the reason why we ask the Design community for a voluntary contribution of ideas, sketches or formal proposals which would show how designers see the push-pull pictogram."

it was mid may when i received an email from my professor chen wang regarding this problem. i got really excited and everywhere i went, i noticed that it was true.

i began by researching sign language (aslpro.com)

and braille (afb.org)

as well as current international pictograms that we see in public places such as airports, restaurants, the olympics, etc...

my conclusions are far from concluded and the june 15 deadline already belongs to the past, but i sent four comps just for giggles (at midnight 6/15/08)...

one question that still bothers me is — if we, whether right or left handed, use a particular hand to complete this function? and as i see it in my part of the world, most doors are hinged on the left, therefore require action on the right. what hand do you use? and as the "hand" might be a graphic solution to this problem, i avoided it all together because i feel it almost always needs a modifier and stands weak as a symbol alone (unless it's STOP, but then again, STOP can be confused for HIGH 5).

this one seemed like the obvious one to me and most influenced by "airport" pictograms, and might work well if not on a door or in another context. but the problem at hand is literally at hand - and on the door in front of you.

simulated in an environment.

here is a revision of the above to reflect less of 'up and down' and more 'in and out.' i think it works well on the door, however it feels a bit dingbat-ish.

simulated in an environment.

this is my favorite, but as reminded by my son, it looks more like bite marks rather than grip impressions. the idea here is to show where your hand would go on the door in order to complete the function. i also like that the shapes are similar, yet can be differentiated from a distance because of their orientation.

simulated in an environment.

another way, more literal as to where your fingers impress, would look like this, yet from a distance they might be confused with one another.

and finally, a solution that would require some training, but nonetheless, would be effective. i'm aware that the triangle symbol means caution, but if trained to relate to pulling when applied to it's medium (the door), i feel this set would be the minimalist solution in our confusing/sign infested world.

simulated in an environment.

here's an alternate if the problem of the "caution" triangle arose.

OK, how about this? eliminating the letters that are in common. "lowest common denominator... numerator? whatever" HA! i got rid of the PU and to me, this is very identifiable no matter what language you speak. a little training for the end user is in order, but i believe it's effective. too bad, i never sent this one in...

here was my intro letter trying to explain my reasoning...

15 June 2008

Hello Design for the World:

PUSH/PULL. Ideally, the final mark should not have to be explained and in the end, should stand on it’s own. However, this is not the end and some problems just need to be worked through.

BRIEF EXPLANATION. My first inclination tells me that this mark needs to be accompanied by it’s respective words written in the language of the given country—for the first five years... at minimum. Whether that’s good or not, I believe people have to be trained, especially in a complex problem like this.

PROBLEM SOLVING. As I began thinking of this problem, I immediately realized the need of a shape-difference recognition. Although the end user will be literally arm’s distance when interacting with the mark, I feel each, the push, and the pull, need to be recognized from afar with a sense of immediacy. They require a bold difference, whether in shape, orientation or symbolism, yet still need to be congruent and display as a couple, even though they are separated. For example, a vertical rectangle and horizontal rectangle — much different, but still similar with the difference and similarity easily recognizable at a glance.

Attached are 4 ideas, push on the left, pull on the right, followed by an environment simulation. If you feel there is any potential in these given comps, I would love the opportunity to work with this problem further. Thank you for your consideration.


brian prince

1 comment:

Alastair Cook said...

Hi Brian

I think the comment about whether a symbol can stand on its own (without words) is a good test of whether the symbol is understandable enough.

The approach to create two-dimensional symbols with human like figures seems in real world testing to have worked the best.


Alastair Cook