An iconic style instantly familiar to web designers and developers around since the days of dial-up. The famfamfam Silk icon set was a staple of web design back in the mid 2000s. I can’t help but look back at them with fond memories (and maybe a little bit of nostalgia).
They were a familiar sight on websites and web applications across the web. Alongside other trends at the time, rounded corners, gradients, and drop shadows. Sprinkle in a few Silk icons and you were on to a winner.
The Silk icon set was created by Mark James, a web developer based in Birmingham, UK. The icon set was updated numerous times, growing to a collection of 1000 icons.
At just 16-by-16 pixels, these icons were created with as few pixels as possible to conserve space and bandwidth. At the time, screens were smaller and had lower resolutions, many people still connected via dial-up, so file sizes needed to be kept small in order for sites to load quickly.
Distributed under a permissive Creative Commons license, they became a go-to resource for many designers and developers looking for icons that were simple, memorable and attractive.
Today, we’re more accustomed to seeing flat, smooth vector lines. While Silk icons are no longer as ubiquitous as they once were—iconography remains a powerful tool for designers: a visual language able to tell stories and convey complex ideas.