There’s a story behind that.

I love finding a good story behind the design of something, especially when there is meaning and symbolism involved. For instance, the ubiquitous barber shop sign – the revolving, helical red and blue striped sign that’s typically mounted on the facade of the shop.

Back in the day, barbers used to perform medical procedures, including tooth extractions and bloodletting services. Apparently, they would hang the bandages on a pole outside to dry and the wind would wrap the bloody bandages around the pole. Yes, disturbing, but we’re talking the Middle Ages here. Leeches are part of the story, too, but I’ll leave that out for now. The pole represents the staff that was used for the patient to grip to encourage blood flow. The color red is symbolic for arterial blood, blue represents venous blood and the white symbolizes the bandages. It’s also possible that the blue was added when the signs were used in the United States, to honor the national colors.

And a note of caution: If you’re in certain parts of Asia, the barber’s pole design could be used to advertise and disguise a completely different type of business establishment, but I’ll choose to steer clear of that story.

This entry was written by Ryon Edwards, posted on October 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm, filed under Musings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Comments are closed.