16 Mar The Interarchy Icons

Interarchy is a Mac app that’s almost as old as I am: it was first created in 1993 as one of the first FTP clients for the Mac, and in 2007 it was sold to its current owner and long-time developer of Interarchy, Matthew Drayton of Nolobe. Matthew contacted me with a request for new icons for the big upcoming version 10. This was no small release, so it had to be worth it.

Like several other FTP clients, Interarchy has always been known and discerned by its icon. By now, it’s a powerful brand. Matthew also expressed his desire to maintain the filing cabinet metaphor in the application icon, and I agreed. Changing the icon now would mean neglecting its long history and evolution.

While I am not a huge fan of outspoken themes in icons for an application, the stylistic direction Matthew envisioned of aluminium / silver, black, and perhaps subtle desaturated colors summoned beautiful visions of icons in my head. I think this could be a great theme: not too outspoken like icons that are bright blue and black, but a subtle kind of consistency that gives the icons an extra quality when used together.

It’s also the set of colors and materials we consider typical of Apple’s latest generation of hardware. This makes the icons appear very modern and advanced, very much in line with what we wanted to represent with the Interarchy icons. Interarchy is a powerful and feature-rich application, and making the icons beautiful, but also appealing to the target user base is a great bonus.

I won’t bore you too much with the process of all the icons, but some of the concepts of the application icon are interesting to see. I did mockups of a thin-edge ‘full black’ cabinet and a pure aluminium one. And how about a cabinet resembling a Mac Pro?

In the end we settled with the current, beautiful yet unassuming icon for the application, and with a few revisions and emails back and forth we arrived at an equally satisfying set of supporting icons for the application itself. Matthew was awesome to work with, and we were both very happy with how the icons turned out. You can see the full set a bit larger on the Nolobe Blog here.

By the way, Nolobe (makers of Interarchy) are having an awesome Fire Sale right now, which is worth checking out.

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23 Responses

  1. 1

    Mooie icons hoor. Echt knap werk.

  2. 2

    Wauw! Knap hoor. Je ikoontjes worden alsmaar beter. Super werk.

  3. 3

    Awesome. I love that you posted a few sketches along. Would love to see more!

  4. 4
    Jason Spencer 

    Love the icons. Bold but subdued.

    I do however get a kind of a Necker cube thing going with the handle on the filing cabinet. When I look at it it flips over and looks like it’s hanging there upside down in space. I think it’s the gloss that throws it off. Maybe try a tiny bit of texture around the rivet?

  5. 5

    Nice icons, but some pixel issues on edges of the Earth icon.

  6. 6

    Agree with SV would be very nice to see some more sketches.
    The Icons themself looks very good.

  7. 7

    Anton: That’s due to scaling it. It tends to get all weird like that :(

  8. 8

    I had the same thing as Jason – I had to look at the icon several times before I realized the handle is meant to be sticking out straight. It kept looking like it was hanging down.

    Otherwise, all around excellent job as usual. I like the color palette, and I’m looking forward to checking out Interarchy 10.

  9. I have the same issue with the handle. Perhaps a bit of thickness – it almost looks like a ribbon. If it had some thickness that was visible on the top edge, it would look much better. In addition, if you made the handle reflect off of the glossy drawer, that would make the handle even clearer. I’ve posted an example at http://drp.ly/C6Ubw if you’re interested.

    Also, I kind of prefer the version of the filing cabinet in the sketches that has the thin outer cabinet rather than the thick cabinet – I think it looks a bit sleeker and more elegant. But both of them really look great.

  10. 10

    Hah! Less than 24 hours ago, saw FireSale. And I thought, who is the designer of this simple yet awesome icon. And now, I got the answer.

    Your works always amaze me :-)

  11. You never cease to amaze us.

  12. Fantastic icons, but why isn’t the file cabinet symbol in perspective on top of the disk icon? Isn’t it supposed to be printed on the surface of the disk?

    This is driving me crazy.

  13. 13
    Matt Ryall 

    Nice work. I like the glossy look a lot — the filing cabinet seems to jump out of the screen.

    A question about the disk drive icons: you don’t use perspective on the Interarchy “decals” on the top of the disks, despite the disk icons themselves being rendered in perspective. Is that normal practice for these disk icons, or something you decided not to do for some reason?

  14. 14

    I’m in agreement with the handle comments. It looks inversed due to the lighting.

  15. 15

    That’s what I was thinking too, but if you zoom in really close, then you can see that there is some perspective to it and the edges are not all straight.

  16. 16

    Interesting comments, guys.

    Regarding perspective distortion on the disk icon: while I could have use exaggerated perspective, it is correctly mapped to the perspective of the disk in accordance with the vanishing point.

    The handle is interesting. I’ll get some more comments on that and see if it’s a recurring ‘issue’ :)

  17. 17

    for what is worth:
    no probs staring at the big icon’s handle… until I read the comments and looked at it again – now I can’t resist flipping it. Brain is weird :)

    on the disk icon sticker perspective: it looks okay in gray on the white disk, not too much in white on the blue disk. I guess it’s the contrast, but it’s also the gradient in the gray one that assists the eye.

  18. 18

    I have the same issue with the handle … ;) (And I had it before I read about it, so it’s ”genuine”.)

    Beautiful work.

  19. 19

    Ik blijf me elke keer verbazen over je mooie werk uniek-origineel-compleet/Je geeeft anderen de kans ze te bekijken en kunnen er hun mening over geven dat zie ik nergens .
    Je geeft steeds weer aan hoe belangrijk ontwikkelen is en anderen erbij betrekken Super
    net als je werk met een
    heldere comunicatie op alle fronten.
    dat ben je

  20. wow this is amazing, very nice work!

  1. […] He’s just that good. And to think he’s only about 18 months older than me. […]

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    Interarchy 10 is out (via Pingback)

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