Check out Susan Kare’s original icon sketches for the Mac OS that revolutionised personal computing

Back in May, London’s Design Museum launched an ongoing exhibition called California: Designing Freedom, a collection tracing the journey from 60s counterculture to Silicon Valley’s tech culture and how ‘Designed in California’ became a global phenomenon.

It’s impossible to think of the counterculture and Silicon Valley without considering Apple, and naturally, the exhibition has an entire section dedicated to the way the Mac revolutionised personal computing.

susan kare

Check out Susan Kare’s original icon sketches for the Apple Macintosh graphic interface that revolutionised personal computing.

A key focus of the section is dedicated to the contribution of designer Susan Kare towards the Mac’s user interface. In particular, the user-friendly symbols she created, displayed through a collection of original rough sketches she drew on squared paper.

Chatting to It’s Nice That, exhibition curator Brendan McGetrick discussed how important it was to have Kare’s contributions to the Mac’s user interface a part of the show:

“The Mac was the first truly personal computer – one of its tag lines was ‘the computer for the rest of us’ – and it was designed to be used by theoretically everyone. 
Susan designed the icons for the Macintosh’s graphical user interface. At the time, the notion of a GUI was revolutionary: just a few years prior to the Mac’s release, people could only interface with a computer through arcane commands written in code. By providing an image-based way to execute computer commands, the Macintosh made computers more intuitive and less intimidating. 
As part of the original Mac team, Kare created some of the first digital fonts, the UI for MacPaint and some of the most persistent icons in computing such as the trash can/bin, the save disk and the smiling Mac. Kare added to the UI an element of friendliness and emotion. The icons that she designed were playful and simple enough to be recognisable to users around the world.”

If you’re in London before October 17, be sure to check out the California: Designing Freedom exhibition at the Design Museum, London.

Check out some of Kare’s fascinating sketches of these iconic symbols below and more here.

Susan Kare

Susan Kare

Susan Kare

Susan Kare


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