The “Ampel Man” symbol is a beloved design artifact from the days of the former Communist East Germany and the country’s transportation infrastructure. Ampel Man or Ampelmannchen, in German, was the hat-wearing icon used in traffic lights at pedestrian street crossings in the GDR.
In spite of German re-unification, the symbol has endured throughout parts of the former East Germany and can be found throughout East Berlin. The icon has been riffed on and subject of design appropriation often, as befits such a well-established symbol. We recently spotted this use of the symbol on the men’s washroom door in a Berlin building, where Ampel Man sits on a toilet.