We love partnering on projects that support a good cause. Whether it’s supporting an environmental initiative, helping improve healthcare navigation, or celebrating women in tech - we love the opportunity to facilitate the use of design for positive change.
One of our most recent partnerships is Dream Icons: a collection of icons that raises money for Fundacja Mam Marzenie (in Eng.: I Have a Dream Foundation). Mam Marzenie is a Polish charity that helps make dreams come true for children living with life-threatening illnesses.
Dream Icons was imagined and executed by Wojciech Zasina, Michał Jawiński, Michał Strączek, Anna Osińska and Maciej Czembrowski. We interviewed the creators to learn about what inspired them to use design as a force for good.
Noun Project: It appears that Dream Icons is a very collaborative effort. How many people are working on this project?
Wojciech Zasina: There are five people working on Dream Icons. Our team includes a copywriter, web designer, web developer, animator and me as a project manager and icon designer. The story of our team is quite interesting. After I got the idea to create this project, I started to call friends to see if they were interested in collaborating. I collected three people in one day. After a week another person was on board. We all come from different cities mostly located in Poland, except for our copywriter, Anna, who lives in Paris. I know everyone well but we’ve never met in person as a whole group. The whole collaboration existed via email, calls on Skype and so on.
NP: What inspired the idea for the Dream Icons collection?
WZ: I love creating icons. I’ve created a lot of icon sets for my clients and published some of them free for download. For example, I created the In The Hospital set with a friend of mine, Michael. We really enjoyed this project and wanted to collaborate again. He’s an animator and I’m an icon designer. Our goal was to connect these talents providing a good quality design project.
I also started to think about engagement with a charity. Why not sell icons that provide profit to someone who needs it? I did research, found a Mam Marzenie (Eng. I Got a Dream) Foundation, and started to make the idea real.
There are many different projects that support charities. Artists sell their work and donate the proceeds. Musicians play charity concerts. But what about designers? There was a gap to fill.
The Foundation I found is a Polish organization that aims to make dreams come true for kids suffering from life-threatening illnesses. It brings a positive change and enriches the lives of kids. Since 2004, 5765 dreams have been realized.That was the biggest inspiration. There are people making other people smile. I wanted to be the part of that.
NP: What was your process for choosing which icons to create? Did the children from the foundation influence your decision?
WZ: Sure they did, but not directly. We started to browse the foundation website where childrens’ dreams are listed and we also asked our friends about their dreams. We gathered a list of around 400 dreams and realized there are four kinds of dreams: non-material dreams – wishing for friends, a happy family, a home and peace; material dreams – like wanting a new computer or skateboard; dreams of travel – mostly to the capital cities in Europe; and impossible dreams – like wishing for the ability to fly. We used this research to create the icons that inspired us the most.
NP: What influenced the style of these particular icons?
WZ: I really like line-style icons and I’ve always enjoy making them. One of my passions is creating simple shapes using just a few lines. There are some obstacles you need to think about when creating icons in such a style. The thickness of lines should be considered. They have to be legible at a small size. Even the specific angles you use make a difference.
NP: What design constraints did you use to keep the collection consistent?
WZ: There is always the challenge of creating icons that display well on any kind of device or print. Another challenge was the variety of topics we wanted to represent. It’s quite difficult to create a consistent scheme for a set that includes small stuff (like a smartphone and watch), bigger objects (like a car or piano), as well as activities (like surfing and paragliding). After I decided which angles to use, the thickness of lines, and which grid to follow, it was easier to continue making the entire collection.
NP: What was the biggest challenge you faced with this project?
WZ: There were definitely many challenges we met.
Michał Jawiński: The challenge that I enjoyed the most while working on the animation was finding similar construction elements in each icon and then adapting them into smooth transitions. We decided that the beginning of animation would show icons related to the non-material things such as friendship, love, family etc. Then the animation transitions to represent dreams of material things (treehouse, rocking horse, guitar, etc.) and then transitions back into showing non-material dreams at the end. That process illustrates what we are dreaming about when we walk through our lives and what values are the most important for us.
Michał Strączek: I’m not sure it was the biggest challenge for me, but when creating our website I was mostly focused on achieving one specific goal. Our goal was to focus on promoting the icons. If you like the icons and they seem useful, then you can buy the set. The result is we provide profits to children. We definitely didn’t want to promote the project as a machine to collect money by showing touching children photos everywhere.
WZ: For me the challenge was somewhere else. Definitely not in the icon set creation. That was the easy part. I needed to manage the project fully online in cooperation with people from different locations, including The Noun Project, which is over 8000 km. It was not easy but I really enjoyed it. There is no distance anymore, thanks to the Internet.
NP: What advice do you have for aspiring designers trying to turn an idea into reality?
WZ: If you have an idea, share it with people, gather feedback and make sure it can work. Smile and infect them with your positive energy. Remember that money is not everything so if you can somehow use your profession to help people it can satisfy you so much.