How do you define an Iconic Design?

Tough one!

Especially if teaching Product Design at A-Level, this is one of those omni present questions which has a tendancy to make an appearance at exam time.  I came up with this recently along with my A level students studying product design in relation to Iconic design. You know how much I love anagrams and acronyms!

We tended to focus on Iconic rather than classic as the term classic is a little open ended. A Morris Minor is a classic car but it is not an Icon. Whereas the Beetle is both classic and Iconic. All old cars are labelled classic cars, few are Iconic.


S: Symbolic, can represent a movement, a time, fashion,ideals, design beliefs or principles

P: Provenance, it has a rich and important history, it changed things, affected the users

U:Unique, different when first released, since copied but still seen as the original, genesis

R:Resonance, people remember it, evokes passion, is still relevant or even still used

See what you think, my pupils can now tell you exactly why a Barcelona chair is an Iconic design and why the W.W Stool by Phillipe Starck is not.

Spencer Herbert – ACCESSFM Copyright © 1999, Spencer Herbert. All rights reserved.