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Experimental Iconography & Illustration

3D Design, Art Direction


Creative Direction –

Nando Costa

Art Direction & 3D Design –

Alexis Copeland

Graphic Design –

Gavin Potenza & Leandro Castelao (Datalands)

Production - Joline Tang

Microsoft’s product design language, Fluent, was created to make our products natural on every platform, designed for focus and flow, inspire action, be inclusive, and look unmistakably Microsoft. However, as our product direction became more expressive, we saw an opportunity to evolve the visual language of our iconography and illustration to be more vibrant, dimensional, and human. 


To start the experiment, we kicked off an exploration of connected objects with design studio Datalands, to stretch the limits how we visually communicate traditional metaphors and concepts.

Developing over 500 shapes and symbols, we explored a range of complex topics like security, privacy, cloud, data, diversity, etc—in efforts to distill complex ideas into concise, visually relevant meanings.

Abstracted elements create a more universal design language while meaning is morphed through unique shape pairings, form, color, and repetition. Below is a sample of those many design explorations.


Looking more closely at our exploration for the metaphor of “Cloud”, we explored an organic, colorful stroke as well as elements of gestalt that layer in additional meaning.


Re–creating these explorations in sculptural form, we expanded a sense of humanity through materiality, lighting, and dimension. These elements add further detail that deepen comprehension while shifting the style to a bolder, more unique, yet distinctively Microsoft look and feel.