Icons have always fascinated me. I think they fascinate everyone to be honest. When used well, an icon (and only an icon) can effectively replace a label, which inherently de-clutters what you’re looking at, all the while giving you an aesthetically pleasing alternative.
It’s funny, some icons we see very consistently in 2014 have been there for decades and really don’t even make sense anymore. The classic example is a ‘save’ icon — 9 times out of 10 it’s a floppy disk. Young kids faced with such an icon don’t have the context of it, but likely have just associated it with ‘save’ simply due to repetition. What else are we “used” to, what else can be improved?
This leads me to also link to one of the most fascinating icon projects I’ve ever seen: Iconic. If you haven’t checked out what this project is all about I highly encourage you to do so.