Designer Damjan Stanković hit the nail on the head with this one on two levels. Not only is the disappearing “red petal” design aesthetically appealing, the actual concept is pretty universal. Stanković’s design goal is to promote eco-awareness. By knowing how long you need to wait, you can opt to stop your car and start it again after several seconds, thus saving fuel and as a net effect, the carbon footprint if everyone does the same. Nice. But I have a different interpretation.
Take this stop light and transplant it to any part of the world and I assure you, everyone will understand how the countdown works. Although the worldwide Anglo-Saxon influence in numbers and letters is strong, not everyone will be able to comprehend a 0:30 second countdown in English numerals.
Another example of how it is innate in human beings to comprehend symbols, shapes, patterns. I remember watching a TED talk (sorry if I can’t find the link, it was so long ago) on the “universality of music” as a language that everyone can understand whether we come from the east or west. Music is governed by certain principles (like the stop light) that is innate to human common sense. The question is, why isn’t it so obvious in today’s society?