In Brief

The system of iconography is both a practical and artistic solution to help displaced individuals and families

Austrian-based design firm Buero Bauer developed a set of icons to use in Europe’s many refugee camps where  displaced families and individuals seek shelter. Named First Aid Kits, the pictograms were originally designed for Austria’s Wien Mitte refugee camp, but Buero Bauer has invited other designers to develop similar icons for other camps.

Bauer’s system relies on simple iconography to label buildings and personnel, as well as other essential disclaimers. The symbols are careful not to favor one group’s cultural ideologies over another.  For example, the icon for a female has either a headscarf or long hair, depending on the viewer’s perspective. The fluidity of these symbols transcend the limitations of language, offering respect to both the host culture and the refugees’ own beliefs.

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