The Noun Project is a website that aggregates and catalogs symbols that are created and uploaded by graphic designers around the world. Based in Los Angeles, the project functions both as a resource for people in search of typographic symbols and a design history of the genre.
The Noun Project was co-founded by Edward Boatman, Sofya Polyakov, and Scott Thomas. Boatman recalled his frustration while working at an architectural firm at the lack of a central repository for common icons, “things such as airplaines, bicycles and people.” That idea morphed into a broader platform for visual communication. The site was launched on Kickstarter in December 2010, which raised more than $14,000 in donations, with symbols from the National Park Service and other sources whose content was in the public domain. Site design was by the firm Simple.Honest.Work, with mentoring from the Designer Fund.
The Noun Project has generated interest and new symbols by hosting a series of “Iconathons”, the first of which was held in the summer of 2011. The sessions typically run five hours and include graphic designers, content experts, and interested volunteers, all working in small groups that focus on a specific issue, such as democracy, transportation or nutrition. The idea for the event came from Chacha Sikes, who was at the time a fellow at Code for America.