Ultimate Symbol was the first software firm to create and publish comprehensive, useful, high-quality digital art content and reference collections specifically to meet the requirements of discerning communication designers, EGD/wayfinding experts, media/advertising creators, and signmaking professionals. Founded by graphic designers in late 1992, the company is currently headquartered in Stony Point, New York. People >
Ultimate Symbol Collection
Why is it a fixture in the world's leading design studios?
Because of founder Mies Hora's passion to meet the rigorous demands of a worldwide clientele of top design professionals and visual artists. Testimonials >
Where did this collection originate?
Seventy years of compilation. Mies' father, Richard Hora, pursued a lifelong obsession for aesthetic perfection through design, art, and architecture. His career spanned the golden era of design from the 50's through the early 80's. A time when craft and care in design were paramount. An all-consuming ethos that bore some very unusual fruit.
Richard developed an elaborate filing system for his work materials while at the studio of the legendary Raymond Loewy, and slowly amassed a phenomenal library of visual ephemera during his long, productive career in package and industrial design.
In 1979, Richard was nearing retirement. Mies had recently graduated from Parsons School of Design and was apprenticing with Art Direction Hall of Famer Cipe Pineles Burtin, when he convinced his father to share his treasure trove with the world (top left photo: Richard and Mies Hora working on the original books, c.1980s). Inspired by the greats and working as a close-knit team, they invested four years into transforming a portion of that amazing motherlode into a set of four bestselling reference books, Design Elements–A Visual Reference (left). This indexed encyclopedia of shapes, forms, and symbols has long been revered by the design community.
In 1992, Mies founded Ultimate Symbol to bring the "Design Elements" books to the desktop as Design Elements – A Digital Reference, and set out to expand the collection with titles such as Official Signs & Icons, Nature Icons, WebPage Graphics, Pictorial Symbols, and Health Care Symbols. Each of these titles received periodic updates and was refreshed with new material. (Lower left photo: The Ultimate Collection products, c. 1999)
What's different about this collection?
It's a labor of love. The collections evolve slowly through ruthless editing, painstaking research and meticulous categorization. We include only material that has a timeless quality, purity of form, uniqueness, and relevance to the whole collection. If a particular type of pointer is missing, like clock hands, then we go out and find them. The process involves hundreds of hours, thousands of sketches, original artworks, type specimens, line cuts, engravings, drawings, photos, and symbol sets.
How are the images rendered?
We build them as EPS files from the vector up. We don't just scan images and streamline them. Our designers have the Illustrator skills and craftsmanship required to recreate complex shapes with precision and grace – without losing the essence of the original. A safety sign stays true to code.
A calligraphic flourish retains its penman-like curve. We correct each image over and over again, until it has just the right look and feel.
How are they organized?
Conveniently. Images are grouped visually by category and thoroughly indexed. A printed book/catalog, digital on-screen catalog, and color thumbnails allow a multitude of ways to search for images.
What makes Ultimate Symbol images special?
Breadth, depth, sophistication, intelligent organization, extreme ease of use, and lavish attention to detail. When important projects or tight deadlines are at hand, design professionals know from experience not to settle for false economies. That's why The Ultimate Symbol Collection has a cult-like following and is cherished by today's best designers.