Normative Signs: The Poetry of "Ought"

In which the author finds beauty in how people tell other people what to do.

Month: April, 2014

Use the Coaster. Seriously.

Duke_coasterI like meta-normative signs, signs that tell you to obey other signs (like this sign telling pedestrians to obey traffic signals). The photo above is of a sign that is kind of like that. See the coaster on the table? The presence of a coaster is an implicit plea for you to use said coaster, and its function is obvious: to protect the table. Except in this case, someone a) figured you wouldn’t know to use the coaster, and b) wouldn’t know its function. So they told you. Politely.

This normative sign also illustrates one of my (perversely) favourite uses of normative signs: to intrude into your brain when the objects they’re protecting should just be designed so as not to require instructions for proper care.

Thanks to Wayne Norman for the photo.

Don’t Tread On Us (Up Here)

flowersThis sign says “Do not step on the flowers!!!”, and was spotted in Kyoto.

It wouldn’t be noteworthy were it not for the fact that it is posted above flowers that are relatively difficult to step on in the first place, given that they’re in a raised flower bed (see photo below for context). As always, this one makes me wonder just what the story is. What pattern of balance-beam flower-stomping made this sign necessary? And is someone who is hell-bent on climbing up onto a planter really likely to read and obey such a sign?

Interesting also that the triple exclamation marks suggest a certain degree of urgency.

Thanks to Johan Portström for submitting the photos.