Age-Old Symbols for the New Age

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This cosmology of signs and symbols is not unlike the position of planet Earth in relation to the entire galaxy. Earth is, of course, just one small globe in only one of the infinite planetary systems floating in the expanse of space. The universe of signs and symbols devised throughout the ages of human history is finite yet it is nonetheless undeniably immense. Like the stars, some signs and symbols are likely to burn bright, fade and die, destined to be replaced by new ones or adaptations of the old. Others change with the times. Needed: A guide to this universe …



… And here it is. As graphic designers who specialize in logos and trademarks, Mark Fox and Angie Wang have done a splendid job in their richly illustrated compendium of hundreds of evocative signs, Symbols: A Handbook for Seeing (Monacelli Press), of reinterpreting the classic images in the context of here and now. The book, for which I wrote the foreword, is a means of identifying, categorizing and explaining the multiple meanings of seminal archetypes. Some are so familiarly ingrained in our minds that we take them for granted; others contain so many alternative meanings it can be difficult to fully comprehend their root symbolism.

A unique mix of Jung interpretation and Randian functionality, the book sifts through everyday things and rare artifacts that comprise a sign language that designers use to communicate throughout the universe of ideas.







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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →