Good design: in the most mundane of things

Pedestrian traffic lights are always more or less the same. Most often you can find two circles that change from Red to Green, the circles tend to hold a boring man pictogram walking when green and standing when red. Ho hum. 

When I was in Berlin recently I noticed that there they use the Ampelmannchen (Ampelmaennchen). This is a hold over from East German times and quite original because in the rest of Germany (indeed rest of Western Europe) the boring old man symbol is the norm.

I find the Ampelmannchen to be irrisistebly cute. When the signal is red, he stands there, arms outstreched as if he wants a big hug, is waiting to be joined in a circle of people holding hands or is sincere about stopping you. When the light is green and he is walking he seems hurried and busy, going places. The hat would seem to be more in place on a Spanish bullfighter but I love how they’ve taken something completely mundane and standard and transformed it into something original.

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