I proposed and engineered a public design contest for the Mexico City Government and produced it in collaboration with the Laboratorio Para La Ciudad. "How do you capture the city in 20 symbols?"

From the traditional eagle on a cactus devouring a snake, to the iconography of the Metro and Metrobús, to the meeting points for earthquakes painted on the sidewalks, Mexico City is a city of symbols. Continuing this tradition into the digital realm, I designed this first-of-its-kind contest to create an official emoji pack for Mexico City. The winning packs were turned into a free app in the Google Play and App Store.

To decipher the meaning of an emoji, you must apply your own lens of understanding and take a substantial leap of faith. Emojis and cities have that in common. This project attempted reverse engineering using emoji to reveal the lenses with which we understand the city. In such a complex city with as many layers as CDMX, the differences between the lived experiences are infinite but at the same time, we have focal points in common. Both are worthy of celebration --  the ultimate objective of this project.

Covered by: Next City, Hyperallergic, City Lab, New York Times en Español, Fast Company , and most major news outlets in Mexico.


Opening Event: Jury Panel--Mexico City, City of Symbols

I assembled a jury for the contest: Jenny 8 Lee, creator of the dumpling emoji and member of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee; Federico Jordan, a Mexican artist and iconography expert; Fred Benenson, emoji expert and author of Emoji Dick; and Oscar Estrada, a Mexican design expert. The jury came to Mexico City for the opening event where I moderated a publicly-attended round table discussion at the Laboratorio Para La Ciudad on the history of emojis, their impact on everyday life, and the role of symbols and visual communication in Mexico City throughout history. We also answered questions from the audience about the criteria we would use to judge the emoji packs. More photos here.



Closing Ceremony & Prizes with Mayor Mancera

We invited the top twenty teams and individual entries to attend an event in which The Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Mancera, attended, gave a speech about emojis, and gave out cash prizes to the top three winners. I also gave a talk about the contest, why I wanted to do it, and why Mexico City is the most appropriate municipality in the world to be the first with an official emoji set. More photos here.

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The App: EmojiCDMX

Originally intending to only include the winning pack in the app, we ended up including the top ten entries because they were all so fantastic. The app, a keyboard, therefore has 200 CDMX-specific emoji stickers. It's available free in the Google Play and App Store.