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  • In Cambodia, the future of health looks a lot like luck
  • In Cambodia, the future of health looks a lot like luck
    Lucky Iron Fish (2015) ©

Lucky Iron Fish: how a symbol can save lives

Symbols are key to the way we navigate the world around us. The creators of Lucky Iron Fish have distilled cultural symbols into a product that has not only changed behaviour, but also saved more than 46,000 lives. But which symbols are they and why do they work so well?

Location Cambodia

Symbols are key to the way we navigate the world around us. Josiah Kahane, professor emeritus of design at Israel’s Holon Institute of Technology, uses a standard smartphone interface to emphasise this point; email is represented by an envelope, time with an analogue clock, and photography with a 35mm camera. “We use outdated products as symbols because they’re ingrained in our mind’s dictionary,” he writes. [1]

The practise of product semantics – distilling signs and symbols into physical products – has become commonplace in the design world. And now, Lucky Iron Fish has used this ...



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