The trash can. The pouring paint bucket. The disc. The happy Mac (or sad one). Susan Kare designed them all. In creating these and most of the other icons on the original Apple Macintosh, she established the framework for modern visual communications: The Point-and-Click Era. Here, Kare, icon of icons, talks about the creative decisions behind some of the best-loved symbols of the past four decades.
Kare delivered this presentation at last year’s Layers Design Conference in San Francisco, but the video was only recently posted online. It’s full of fresh observations about the creative process, insights about her time at Apple, and advice for designing with accessibility in mind; so even if you’re familiar with Kare and her work, I’m willing to bet you’ll find something new here. I learned from Kare’s 2013 book, for example, that the command icon (⌘) was originally a symbol used to denote interesting features at Swedish campgrounds, but the story of how she stumbled upon the symbol in the first place, and how she weighed its merits at the time. (Her description of her first trip to Sweden, decades after she copped the command icon for Apple, is also pretty damn charming.)
Her talk’s about half an hour long and well worth watching in its entirety. The second half of the video, a Q&A between Kare and Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, is also worth a watch.