Have you ever strolled past a parklet, or a sidewalk extension with what seems to be seating and tables, but weren't sure if you could sit there? Are you able to imagine what this parklet looks like, let alone the intention behind it?
Upon first glance at its linguistic form, we found ourselves scanning the dusty compartments of past memories to bring back meaning to a “parklet,” a technical term commonly used in urban design and planning amongst numerous referents. A parklet is a people-oriented mini park in place of a vehicle parking spot, and it wasn’t until we saw a visual depiction of it when we experienced an aha moment.
With literacy statuses, cultural barriers and our very own experience in mind, Noun Project hosted a Great Streets Iconathon in partnership with the Office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Goldhirsh Foundation to help create the visual language that invites LA citizens to engage in public spaces.
In 2014, Mayor Garcetti announced 15 main streets in 15 different neighborhoods as part of the Great Streets initiative. With the helping hands of neighborhood hub Mar Vista Art Dept, the Iconathon took place at a co-shop-work space situated on Venice Boulevard, right on a designated Great Streets corridor.
A diverse scope of people lent their creativity and unique perspectives at the public design workshop including volunteers, graphic designers, community organizers, policy makers, students, families & youth.
Naomi Iwasaki, Great Streets Program Director, kicked off our discussion on Great Street concepts. Edward Boatman, co-founder of Noun Project, presented on semiotics and best practices for designing icons. Angie Jean-Marie, social innovator from Goldhirsh Foundation, helped connect the dots in support of re-imagining the future of Los Angeles.
We saw people from all walks of life gather in the heart of Mar Vista to reimagine our LA neighborhoods as vibrant, empowering, and safe spaces. Citizens, designers & subject matter experts alike brainstormed visual depictions of the following 24 referents with a focus on 6 main categories.
Access & Mobility
Neighborhood Identity & Civic Pride
Community Engagement & Social Connection
Graphic tools to be used for inspiring positive action in the public way and creating literal "front porches" for our great LA neighborhoods.
The visual language, made by the people, will return home to Venice Boulevard as well as live on our other LA Great Streets in the manifestation of metal signs printed by the LA Department of Transportation for people to engage with.
The icons are now in the public domain and available for free download on Noun Project.
The icons created from this Iconathon will be used by the Office of LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Goldhirsh Foundation to communicate the works of urban design concepts, along with any other cities in need of graphic tools to denote actionable concepts to build and sustain livable communities.
View and download the full collection here.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Tang / 12FV