Announcing Iconathon Topic for PID Week

On Sunday, March 24, rounding out Public Interest Design Week at the University of Minnesota, our partners at The Noun Project–profiled here previously–will be hosting their trademark graphic design hackathon, called “Iconathon.” The Noun Project will be partnering with Minneapolis’ Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services to host an Iconathon design workshop with the goal of creating a badge system that can be displayed on storefronts across the city. These “badges of honor” will be similar in nature to the Yelp or Zagat rating stickers that can be seen on restaurants throughout the country.

Iconathons are facilitated design workshops organized by The Noun Project in partnership with organizations and sponsors across the country. Symbols serve as some of the best tools to overcome many language and cultural communication barriers. The aim of Iconathon is to add to the public domain a set of graphic symbols that can be used to easily communicate concepts frequently needed in civic design…Iconathons are specifically designed to let the public participate in the design process and to further increase their understanding of the civic topics they engage with. Previous Iconathons have created public domain symbols for concepts like “human rights,” “food bank,” “electric car,” and “sustainable energy.”

Click here to learn more about The Noun Project’s “Badge of Honor” Iconathon, online at Iconathon.org, or click here to register for the event via EventBrite.com.

New Energy Efficiency Symbols Introduced

This Sunday, April 22, marks Earth Day–intended to “increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment.” In conjunction with this annual occasion, The Noun Project, profiled here previously, has released a new suite of its beautiful symbols, this time around energy efficiency. The Noun Project partnered with Cree, Inc. in Durham, N.C., to host one of its trademark Iconathons, generating 15 new symbols. Together, they developed a “visual language to represent concepts like wind and solar farms, electric charging stations, and sustainable energy.” Like every symbol created by The Noun Project, these 15 new ones are available for free download as vector files from The Noun Project’s Iconathon Suite.

[W]e view these symbols not just as purely utilitarian, but also as representative of where we are as a society, and what we want our future to look like. Creating symbols for these powerful ideas helps disseminate them by providing people with the visual tools to make their voices heard across contemporary communication platforms.

Click here to learn more about The Noun Project’s new energy efficiency symbols.


Code for America, profiled earlier today, also just announced that it will be partnering with the Noun Project on a series of design workshops, called Iconathon. Of the cities announced so far, Boston will focus developing visual icons on education, Chicago (likely) on democracy, Detroit on urban planning, New York on transportation, Oakland on social services, and Philadelphia and Seattle on community.

As explained on the Iconathon website, “…[G]overnment has a new challenge of quickly and efficiently communicating its services to a constantly evolving constituent base, made of different cultures, ages, religions, and languages. Symbols serve as an integral part of overcoming this communication barrier, and are already widely used throughout various public spaces to represent objects and ideas within education, health care, transportation, and recreation.”

Code for America

Launched last year, Code for America–another amazing service corps organization–enlists the talent of the web industry into public service, to use their skills to solve core problems facing cities and communities. Made up of “web geeks, city experts, and technology industry leaders,” by its own accounting, the organization is “building a network of civic leaders who believe there is a better way of doing things and want to make a difference.”

With 20 fellows (selected from an applicant pool of nearly 400) already in place in Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC, and funding from top-tier foundations, Code for America is off to a fast start. From its initial graphic identity and clean website to its ongoing initiatives (such as Redesign.gov and Iconathon.org, also profiled today), good design is engrained in everything Code for America does. Of particular note from a design and technology standpoint was its spectacular July 4th Twitter campaign.