John Maeda: There so many icon libraries out there either for free or for pay. What makes this icon library different?
Rachel Been: We use a very specific grid to create incredible consistency across thousands of different icons. And one of the most special parts of this icon system is that we had some of the most talented icon designers create that iconography. So the talent combined with consistency and adherence to both detail and a specific grid makes these icons usable across a variety of different use cases.
JM: These icons are for free. Do you really mean free?
RB: Yes, they really are free. I think one of the reasons why Material believes in free resources is to make the entire ecosystem better. We found that in the Android platform by achieving consistency in iconography that people have a lower cognitive load when they’re navigating through applications by seeing the same icons.
JM: Why were these icons chosen?
RB: Laughing. Because they were some of Michelle’s favorites! Michelle is one of our senior visual designers at Material Design. She specializes in typography and layout.
JM: These icons are available in four styles, is that right? In addition to base.
RB: Yes. We introduced four additional styles to the baseline style in 2018 to create more flexibility for brands. So, for example, if a brand identity is more aligned with the outline style, then they have the opportunity to use the iconography in those styles without having to recreate them.