A good way to create an iconic design is to start by a previous iconic design. Accentuation of the traits that make the first successful in the first place is a good idea. Here is an example:

Tesla cybertruck and DMC side by side

Also, if you start working from an iconic object in itself from the get-go the odds of striking a icon are greater on your favor.

Another idea is to simplify. To remove all the superfluous and get the basic shapes for utility right. One of the best designs around that is the following.

Yet another powerful principle is go on and create a system. A system which allows you to add or remove or mix things together in the design.

A clear example of this is Vitsoe 606 shelving system designed by Dieter Rams.

Here follows two uses of the same shelving system with different configurations and scenarios. It’s quite a flexible design:

In both cases it is the same product. I have even seen it in libraries.

The bottom line is: when designing an icon starting from principles matters.

(If you’re curious on how I find out of the above the exercise goes as follows: Look for objects which have stood the test of time. Try on improve them/invent new things around it so it improves/redesign them without taking away the essence. If none of the above worked or worked minimally that’s a good example.)

* Cybertruck image is copyright of Tesla.com, DMC DeLorean is copyright of of DMC, credits of the DeLorean image to the author of it. The Vitsoe 606 shelving system images are copyrift of Vitsoe.com