Give Me a Sign: The Language of Symbols — Exploring E90th St
Written by: Phil O'Brien. Published: August 14, 2023.
The exhibition — Give Me a Sign: The Language of Symbols — at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum offers a fascinating look into the world of symbols. As we move through our daily lives, symbols constantly instruct, protect, empower, and connect us in ways we often take for granted. This exhibition explores the history and evolution of symbols from early written languages to modern digital communication.
Marking the 50th anniversary of Henry Dreyfuss's seminal 1972 publication Symbol Sourcebook, the exhibition honors his legacy in elevating and expanding the importance of symbols in design. As an industrial designer, Dreyfuss understood how symbols needed to function intuitively for people and pioneered their use in products like airplanes, cameras and telephones. The exhibition tells the origin story of the Symbol Sourcebook through materials from Dreyfuss's archive at Cooper Hewitt for the first time.
As we explored the galleries, we saw how symbols have inspired activism, kept us safe and represented our identities. You can even design your own symbol for a cause or place you care about. By examining both the history and future of these visual tools, Give Me a Sign highlights how symbols bring people together across languages and cultures in our ever-evolving world. The exhibition is at the museum until September 2, 2023.
When we left the exhibition, we turned left along East 90th Street and explored how many signs are all around us…