Made in Japan: The Green Exit Sign
Slate has a very cool article up about the story behind the green exit signs used in many non-North American countries:
Many other countries use some version of the ISO standard, a symbol developed the late 1970s by a Japanese designer named Yukio Ota and adopted for international use in 1985. This take on the exit sign goes by the informal name “the running man,” and looks like this:
Fans of Ota’s running man point to two key advantages: It’s a pictogram, and it’s green. The sign’s wordlessness means it can be understood even by people who don’t speak the local language. And the green color, they argue, just makes sense. Green is the color of safety, a color that means go the world over. Red, on the other hand, most often means danger, alert, halt, please don’t touch. Why confuse panicked evacuees with a sign that means right this way in a color that means stop? International designers tend to think our system is illogical and consider our rejection of the running man to be as dumb as our refusal to adopt that other sensible international norm, the metric system.