The Challenges of Designing Enduring Symbols That Warn Against Dangerous Situations

In a really insightful video by Vox and accompanying article by 99% Invisible, video producer Christophe Haubursin, 99% Invisible creator and host Roman Mars and digital director Kurt Kohlstedt also of 99% Invisible, explain the scientific, philosophical and design challenges of creating enduring, understandable symbols that warn against danger and dangerous situations.

Chances are you wouldn’t be able to recognize a biohazard even if you were looking right at one. But the biohazard symbol? It’s pretty easy to spot. …But the biohazard symbol references an idea that is much harder to picture — and in the 50 years since its invention, it has become one of the most recognizable icons on the planet. But can the meaning of a symbol like this last an eternity? A special Department of Energy project is trying to figure that out.