I was studying at a random cafe, so I took pictures of icons from items around me.

Here’s the ubiquitous EXIT sign — picture and sketch. The EXIT icon is so recognizable and universal. In an emergency, it’s the right sign to look for to head for safety. I like how it’s made for the visually impaired, with raised letters and braille letters beneath.

And here’s the gluten free icon, which I find kind of amusing, taken from an Asian Noodle Salad label. Our obsession with gluten free food has taken hold, and now we have an icon for it! This icon is kind of whimsical and looks food-related. It’s also become quite recognizable.

And the WiFi icon, picture and sketch. I found this sticker on the cafe window. The WiFi icon has a nice “wifi” signal over the “i”, which is a great very recognizable visual for it.

And here’s the Employees Only sign with my sketch. It was hanging near a door in the cafe. I like this sign — it’s also very recognizable and kind of cute. A little man, presumably an employee, going through the door.

The CE sign, which stands for Conformité Européene, picture with sketch. I found this on the underside of my mouse. I guess CE Marking on a product is a manufacturer’s declaration that the product complies with the essential requirements of the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. That’s an interesting tidbit of information, for those of you wondering what CE stands for.

This exercise made me pay more attention to the icons that we are surrounded by, what they mean to me, and how they came about. Icons were created to symbolize something, to communicate a universally recognized message. Some symbols are more intuitive, while others, like the “CE” symbol, require a little digging to decipher. Overall, I think this was a helpful exercise to explore and think about the icons that we encounter every day.