By Rachael Steven


Lopez has been working on the self-initiated project for 17 months and has now set up a website to showcase his designs. Icons are divided into five categories: attractions, culture, everyday (such as urban services and images depicting daily life), nature and issues, which touch on less positive aspects of life in the city, from exploding manholes to a widespread use of weapons.

Lopez has created pictograms and accompanying icons for a range of Rio sights, places and people. Images via

Lopez says the project aims to celebrate Rio’s diversity and heritage: “Initially I didn’t know if I would find a hundred ideas to represent, but I soon realised the biggest issue would lie on defining what to leave out of this initial planning,” he says on the website. “The thematic focus of mini Rio is very personal and it is based on my interpretation of the city. I wasn’t worried about creating an ensemble of images to express a collective or ‘official’ view of Rio, and by doing so I’d have been equally arbitrary. In this sense, the project might well be called ‘my Rio’.”


It’s a personal but extensive selection, covering landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer, indigenous animals from marmosets to the capybara and cultural sites like Rio’s Museum of Modern Art. There are also icons for football teams, stations, airports and popular pursuits from hang gliding to volleyball.

Lopez collated over 1200 images for the project and devised a strict set of rules to ensure consistency: each icon has rounded corners, no perspective and a 0.55 mm line weight, rendered in 40% black.



“The complexity of the ensemble and the huge amount of illustrations soon determined that the use of a rigid construction grid would be inappropriate, because it would limit the creative work with no gain in quality,” he says. “

[Instead], I realised that the visual consistency would be forged by the repetition of similar basic characteristics, rather than excessively regular and geometric relationships.” Once drawn, pictograms were tested at various sized to ensure they would still be legible, even when reduced to as little as 2cm.



While working on the pictograms, Lopez created two original typefaces, mini Tipo and mini Gentileza (shown below), which are now available to download on the mini Rio website. “Both typefaces have the same visual characteristics [as] the set of pictograms, namely rounded ends, uniform thickness and simplified shape. The mini Kindness Alphabet was done exclusively to recreate the traditional scriptures of the famous Prophet and wanderer of the city,” he says.



Lopez is now making a book of pictograms and plans to set up commercial partnerships to make a range of licensed products. He has also experimented with animated versions, colourful illustrations and patterns using his designs, published on a ‘mini Lab’ section of the site.

You can see the full set and read more about the project at

Read more here:: Rio, in pictures