That floppy disk icon that we use to Save our work? (or at least, in the era before auto-save or the cloud were a thing). That’s also Susan’s baby. If you use an Apple computer, that squiggly “command” key logo was also Susan’s design:
What Kare lacked in computer experience she made up for in visual knowledge. “Bitmap graphics are like mosaics and needlepoint and other pseudo-digital art forms, all of which I had practiced before going to Apple,” she told an interviewer, in 2000. The command icon, still right there to the left of your space bar, was based on a Swedish campground sign meaning “interesting feature,” pulled from a book of historical symbols. Kare looked to cross-stitch, to mosaics, to hobo signs for inspiration when she got stuck.
But this being a typography newsletter, let’s stick with iconography. According to Susan Kare, good icons should be more efficient like road signs rather than illustrations. They should be easily comprehended and keep the users from getting confused by extraneous details. She is of the view that out of million colors all the colors don’t need to be incorporated in the icons and that once a well-crafted and meaningful icon is designed it doesn’t need to be resigned frequently.
Scroll up to the banner image and see how many of those icons you can recognise; probably more than just a few. I believe Kare is also responsible for the “trash can” as a deletion metaphor since nothing else existed at the time. It’s hard, if not impossible, to disassociate ourselves from these paradigms today since most of us grew up with them.
Susan also designed sets of typefaces for the Mac. In fact, she implemented the first screen-based proportionally-spaced font. She describes her process:
“I started with Chicago (the bold system font, originally called Elefont) and went on to design a number of others including New York , Geneva, Monaco, Cairo, San Francisco, and Toronto. Since the Macintosh originally was paired with an Imagewriter dot matrix printer, I created families of bitmap fonts that scaled down to appear smooth when printed.”