Figma has grown a lot since we launched to the public five months ago, and as we’ve matured we’ve continued to evolve our marketing design. Doing this from within the organization, instead of with an agency, has allowed us to iterate in a way natural to digital design.
Today we’re excited to release our new icon, which builds upon our larger identity system and core values as a company and we want to take you through three of the main concepts behind it:
Every design begins with same basic elements — points, lines, and shapes. Similarly, even the most complex designs can be reduced to these indispensable pieces. It’s our belief that a great design is one where these pieces are used efficiently together.
For instance, early on when designing Figma we often talked about what tools you need to create modern design for screens. We realized that the tool set does not have to be large if the tools are carefully selected and work together well. With a small set of functions (like the vector-network tool or a frame), designers can create a lot of different things to form complex means of expression.
The same is true for communications design. You can create much of our designed world by using a small set of elemental shapes to build things of great complexity. Although the use of primary shapes and colors was famously promoted at the Bauhaus school as fundamental to design, these forms have been part of the language of design for hundreds of years.
Figma exists to empower and enable designers and their teams to create their best work. Since that’s our purpose, we decided to celebrate the fundamentals that inform all design — the simple shapes, or building blocks, that go into every design project.
The second concept that underpinned our new icon was ‘encouraging play.’ We believe the way to discover new solutions to old problems is through (sometimes very structured) experimentation and play. Designing with an open mind leads to more interesting outcomes, in addition to being more fun to work this way. As we designed our icon we had children’s playing blocks in mind — something reflected in our bright color choices and the shapes themselves.
Play has a long history in the world of design. Some of the most significant designers made children’s books later in their careers — from the experimental books of Bruno Munari, to the many children’s works of Ann and Paul Rand. While there’s many reasons for this return to basics, one purpose might be to recapture the creative space that play allows for.
Just as we hope that our tool enables this way of working, our icon aims to capture the same spirit of openness.
Thinking about design as a modular system is not new, but seems to make more sense than ever in designing digital products. As software plays an ever increasing role in our lives, the digital world continues to fragment into myriad screen sizes, internet connection speeds, monitors and operating systems. As a result, it makes sense to create components for design that can work together, like a recipe or blueprint, rather than one-off solutions. Here at Figma, we often talk of designing systems, not artifacts.
An example of this is designing with vectors rather then pixels. If you can create a design that is made up of a ruleset, it can adapt to any environment. If you design with a fixed set of pixels, they’re bound to break down in the wrong context.
At Figma we’ve introduced features to empower designers building these systems, and we wanted our icon to also suggest this style of work. We created a system whereby the icon is constructed from three simple shapes and a modular grid. We hope you can imagine creating your own design with these same components.
The new icon is on our website, across social media, and will soon appear on your desktops if you use the Figma native apps.
The design team at Figma is Johan Prag, Rasmus Andersson and Chris Hamamoto.