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Whether it’s in nature, architecture or the products we use, cool shapes are everywhere around us.
In fact, shapes form the building blocks of all design. And while we might not realize it, each shape can make us feel a certain way.
Brands and visual communicators all over the world can use shapes in design to share specific values and messages with their audiences. Shapes can be used in brand identity, like logos, website design and business cards, or in product design for practical or emotional purposes.
But shapes aren’t just limited to circles, squares and triangles. There are some interesting shapes out there that you probably didn’t learn about in school. And just like all the other shapes and symbols in the world, these cool shapes also come with their own distinct meanings and emotions.
Here are 11 cool shapes to help you create meaningful designs and connect better with your audience.
You can view the visual infographic summary of this post below or skip ahead to read a detailed explanation and history of each cool shape.
A heptagram is is a seven-pointed star drawn with seven straight strokes.
It has been used in various religions of the world to represent something sacred. For example, in Christianity, this shape was used to symbolize the seven days of creation.
It was also a symbol for the goddess Babalon in Thelema.
More recently, however, the shape has largely been associated with the Wicca religion—a modern religion based on ancient Witchcraft traditions. For Wiccans, who worship nature and follow the Faery tradition, the heptagram is a sacred symbol and is known as the Elven or Faerie star.
Apart from religion, the heptagram is also used in alchemy; a seven-sided star that refers to the seven planets known to ancient alchemists.
With such a vibrant history, the heptagram is certainly a shape you can't ignore.
The heptagram can also be seen in flags of various countries, most notably in the Australian and Jordanian flags. It's also used in the logo of Maersk, a famous transport and logistics company.
It's said that Peter Mærsk Møller, the founder of Maersk, was a deeply religious Christian. After his wife recovered from an illness, he attached a blue banner with a white seven-pointed star—a heptagram—on his steamship Laura, which later became the emblem of the Maersk Group.
In a letter to his wife in 1886, Peter explained, "The little star on the chimney is a memory of the night when I prayed for you and asked for a sign: If a star would appear in the gray and cloudy sky, it would mean that the Lord answers prayers."
Visual communicators can use this cool shape to represent perfection or to create a deep sense of belonging with their audience. Businesses can use a heptagram in their designs to illustrate different sections, departments or core values.
The literal meaning of triquetra is “three-cornered”.
This cool triangular shape is symmetrical and is formed by the overlapping of three arcs. It has been used for various purposes in history, especially in religion.
In Christianity, the three edges of the triquetra represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This is also why this shape is also called the "Trinity knot".
The triquetra is often illustrated with a circle—the Trinity circle—interlaced between the three arcs, which symbolizes unity. The shape also appears in Celtic art as well as early christian art.
Above is a picture of how the triquetra in used in window art at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic church in Wilmington, Delaware.
The triquetra is also seen in the American TV show ‘Charmed’.
Although the show was about three witches fighting demons and warlocks, no religious meaning of the triquetra was implied.
The triquetra is a cool shape to use in visual design and branding for all types of visual communicators. It can be used to illustrate the union of three items, such as values, personalities or other aspects.
The Star of Lakshmi is a special octagram—an eight-sided polygon—made from two congruent squares with the same center placed at 45° angles.
The origin of this cool shape comes from the Hindu religion.
In Hinduism, Lakshmi—the goddess of wealth—has eight forms of manifestation, known as Ashtalakshmi. These are represented by two entwined squares forming an octagram.
Each manifestation represent a certain form of wealth: monetary, ability to transport, endless prosperity, victory, patience, health and nourishment, knowledge and family.
This cool shape is also used in the Central Lobby of the Houses of Parliament, London.
Today, the shape is more commonly seen in architectural design, rugs, tiles, jewelry and other ornaments.
It even appears on the website of the American rock band Faith No More.
The Star of Lakshmi is certainly a very unique shape with deep symbolism. It's a great pick for spiritual and healing brands looking to create a new brand identity.
A lemniscate looks like a figure-eight curve, and resembles the infinity symbol.
The origins of the lemniscate can be traced back to the 5th century AD. It was found by Greek Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus, who called this shape a horse fetter, as it resembled two hooves joined together.
In graphic design, this cool shape is often used in typography. Take a look at the logo of Coursera, the famous online learning platform.
The infinity symbol represents continuity and immortality. In the case of Coursera above, it's clearly used to express how learning and growth is a never-ending process.
The upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup also uses the lemniscate shape in their official logo.
The Vesica Piscis looks a lot like a Venn diagram, but has a much deeper meaning to it.
This cool shape is formed by intersecting two circles at the same radius, where the center of each circle lies on the circumference of the other.
The literal translation of Vesica Piscis is the “bladder of a fish." It's considered a holy figure because the ratio of its width to its height was believed to be 165:153 or 1.73203—thought of as a holy number.
One of the stained glass windows in the Church of St. Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield, showcases a Vesica Piscis that was created back in 1947.
This cool shape can also be seen at the Chalice Well in Somerset County, England.
The Vesica Piscis is also used in modern jewelry design. Many organizations all over the world have also used the shape in one way or the other.
Mastercard, one of the world's most famous financial service companies, uses this cool shape in their logo.
The reason why a Vesica Piscis was used in their logo could be because Mastercard was formed out of the union of many different banks and financial institutions.
They also came up with the tagline, "Mastercard, the heart of commerce." in 2006, which makes the logo look like the symbol of a central source of energy, like the heart.
Visual communicators and brands can use this shape to represent the union of two forces or a source. It can also be used to symbolize creation, birth and fertility, as it resembles the female reproductive organ.
The Reuleaux triangle (pronounced as “ru-los”) is a curved triangle formed by the intersection of three circular disks.
You've probably seen this cool shape in guitar picks, pencils, architecture, coins and even drill bits.
The Reuleaux triangle is named after the 19th-century German engineer Franz Reuleaux, who was known for using the design in his work.
You can also find this shape in corporate logos and signage around the world. For example, the National Trails System and United States Bicycle Route System both mark routes with Reuleaux triangles on their signage.
The shape has also been used in architecture, such as this tower in Barcelona, which used the Reuleaux triangle to create a structure that is both lightweight and maximizes space.
An enneagram (Pronounced "any-a-gram") is a nine-sided figure, usually enclosed inside a circle.
If this cool shape looks familiar to you, you're probably a Slipknot fan.
The origins of this cool shape are unclear. Some say that it can be traced back to the sacred geometry of Pythagorean mathematicians, while others believe it may have entered Judaism and represents the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah.
More commonly, the enneagram is used in a system of analysis to represent the spectrum of possible personality types, where the numbers 1-9 are used to represent a part of personality. You can take the test here.
In visual identity, you can use the enneagram to describe several personalities or dimensions of your brand.
A nonagon, also known as an enneagon, is a nine-sided polygon.
All sides of a regular nonagon are of the same length, and the angles are at 140 degrees each. An irregular nonagon, however, does not have equal sides or angles.
This cool shape can be seen in various buildings all over the world. For example, the top of the US Steel Building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is an irregular nonagon.
It looks like a triangle, but it actually has nine sides. Go ahead and count them.
This cool shape is also linked to the religion Baháʼí Faith—all their Houses of Worship must have nine sides. Here's a video that shows a collection of Baha'i temples of the world.
The shape even has its own children's song. So cool!
The nonagon is also used extensively in interior design, jewelry design, art, and even branding and logos. Since the number 9 is considered sacred in most religions, this shape is ideal for symbolizing magic, power and wisdom in your designs.
The annulus resembles a ring-shaped object, where the central region is enclosed by two concentric circles. This cool shape is commonly used in the construction of oil and water wells, production tubing and casing.
Apart from its manufacturing and architectural uses, this cool shape can also be used in your brand identity, corporate presentations, pitch decks and even logos to represent the target, aim or direction of your business.
The annulus is also used in the logo of Target, the eighth-largest retailer in the US.
A Möbius strip, or Möbius band, is a three-dimensional shape with a single, continuous side.
This shape is named after August Ferdinand Möbius, a German mathematician, who was also a fan of unusual shapes.
You must have seen this shape as the recycle symbol.
The Möbius strip symbolizes continuity, which explains why it's used as the globally accepted symbol of recycling.
It's also a symbol of innovation and constant change, which is why it's also used in Google Drive’s logo.
You can use the Möbius strip to convey a variety of values and emotions. This cool shape can also be used to represent unity, balance, reincarnation and other such meanings in your designs.
The shape is often seen in wedding bands to symbolize infinity and eternal love. It's also used by product designer Arihiro Miyake in his Kepler suspension lamp.
A squircle is a unique shape that's somewhere between a square and a circle.
It might not look like it, but this cute little shape actually has mathematical origins. It's commonly seen in the designs of dinner plates, optics, coins and more.
Even old Nokia phones used to have a squircle incorporated in touch pads.
This cool shape can now be found in your iPhone's app icons, and also on the back of Apple's iPhone 11 Pro Max.
A few years ago, squircles were all the rage in car design. You could literally find it everywhere—from headlights to interiors.
Part of the reason why the squircle is so popular is because of how practical it is, along with looking sleek and sophisticated. A squircular dinner plate, for example, can hold more food than a circular or square-shaped plate.
I bet you never realized this, but even Instagram uses the squircle as their logo!
As a brand or visual communicator, you can use the squircle to symbolize innovation and creativity in your designs. This symbolism stems from the way this cool shape seamlessly integrates two regular shapes to create a more beautiful and functional one.
Every good visual communicator should know the "why" behind their use of a certain symbol or shape in their designs. This helps you create not just more beautiful designs, but also ones that are powerful and effective.
The use of cool, creative shapes can turn boring or plain designs into meaningful visuals that resonate with your audience and bring them closer to your brand.
Start using these cool shapes in your designs to form unique and memorable associations with your brand. You can create all kinds of visuals, like infographics, social media images, presentations, brand identity collateral and more in Visme.
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