designing peace
August 29, 2007 10:01 AM   Subscribe

The origin of the peace sign. Various histories of designs, top 10 tools for artists and designers, hilarious pencil attachments and other cool stuff at designboom (previously).
posted by nickyskye (16 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
i could have sworn that i read bertrand russell came up with that.
posted by andywolf at 10:09 AM on August 29, 2007


The "peace sign" was originally the symbol of the (U.K.) Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). It was designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958. The frequently-repeated but mistaken belief that it was designed by Bertrand Russell probably stems from the fact that Russell was the president of the CND at the time.
posted by andywolf at 10:12 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Screw the peace sign. Have nice day!
posted by davy at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2007

Huh, that peace symol history is super interesting. I used to get my hair pulled in Jr. High for wearing one. I wouldn't have guessed it was professionally designed, but I guess its lasting-power is an indication that it works well for people.

And I love the tidbit that Bayard Rustin popularized it here. Queers run the world! Yay!
posted by serazin at 10:25 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

symol? symbol.
posted by serazin at 10:26 AM on August 29, 2007

I tried to justify some of those pencil attachments.

"You know, an eraser would be a useful thing to attach to a pencil, so let's just put it jutting off to one side! Obviously you can't put the eraser on the opposite end, since that's where the light or the cigar clipper goes."
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2007

from a design point of view, it is interesting to note that
the original sketches are preserved at the school of
peace studies, at the bradford university.

It's particularly interesting to note that when you work in the same building and didn't have the remotest clue.
posted by vbfg at 11:34 AM on August 29, 2007

And I love the tidbit that Bayard Rustin popularized it here. Queers run the world! Yay!
double yay! : >

I always thought it was older too--like a WW1-era thing or something. (and it's so funny that even today people use the Mercedes logo by mistake sometimes)
posted by amberglow at 12:52 PM on August 29, 2007

i always loved the round erasers with a brush on the end
posted by amberglow at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2007

Looks more like an uprooted Yggdrasil to me.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:52 PM on August 29, 2007

Heh. I remember, as a teenager, having some folks back in Bible Belt Birmingham shaking their finger at me and saying the peace sign is the cross of Jesus turned upside down. And I see the Design Boom peace sign link mentions the very origins of this idea: the upside-down crucifiction image from the 5th Century, and its use in the Middle Ages as a satanic symbol. I don't think the Alabama finger-waggers were any kind of history buffs, though...

And thanks, nickyskye, for bringing designboom to my attention. Jam packed, action-filled site, this is! Love this cigarette pack graphics and this history of the shopping cart.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 PM on August 29, 2007

Years ago, a huge peace sign was painted by persons unknown on a flat microwave reflector billboard above Missoula Montana. The image would stay up for a while, then be erased by the telecommunications company that owned the billboard. Again it would be repainted with another peace sign. This went on for years.

Being a smallish, liberal town, this became quite the subject of conversation amongst Missoulians. Should the "vandalized" peace sign be exempted from being erased? Being so positive and public, perhaps this graffito deserved legally protected status. Allegedly, the peace sign pigments did not adversely affect the reflection of the microwaves.

Various pundits opined deeply, and delved into "quality of life" issues. Because the image was seen, through the medium of air the issue of "impact" on the "airshed" came up.

And so it was, that the peace sign on the microwave reflector became Missoula's great plate-of-beans issue.

Sadly, the issue is now moot as the reflector itself is now gone...
posted by Tube at 5:57 PM on August 29, 2007

posted by mazola at 10:00 PM on August 29, 2007

Love that designboom site nickyskye.

(and I have spent the entire day on mefi and somehow missed your post - weird)
posted by vronsky at 1:31 AM on August 30, 2007


The garden's grillwork gate
opens with the ease of a page
in a much thumbed book,
and, once inside, our eyes
have no need to dwell on objects
already fixed and exact in memory.
Here habits and minds and the
private language
all families invent
are everyday things to me.
What necessity is there to speak
or pretend to be someone else?
The whole house knows me,
they're aware of my worries and weakness.
This is the best that can happen--
what Heaven perhaps will grant us:
not to be wondered at or required to succeed
but simply to be let in
as part of an undeniable Reality,
like stones of the road, like trees.

--Jorge Luis Borges

(trans. by Norman Thomas Di Giovanni)
posted by vronsky at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2007

Exquisite poem dear vronsky! Such a sense of deep peace. Ah. Thank you.
posted by nickyskye at 7:49 PM on August 30, 2007

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