Culture Code-X

Runway Red

Image for Runway Red

Cate Blanchett for Armani Si

The CODE-X series catalogs a vast codex of source codes (aka “signs”) extracted from past audits.

The object of study in semiotics is not the signs but rather a general theory of signification; the goal of each “audit” is to build a model demonstrating how meaning is produced and received within a category or cultural territory. Signs on their own, therefore, only become truly revelatory and useful once we’ve sorted them into thematic complexes, and the complexes into codes, and the codes into a meaning map. We call this process “thick description”; the Code-X series is thin description.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Vanity Fair

RUNWAY RED” NORM: Red is where fashion and style meet extreme confidence. Red is a bold and daring statement — defying you to judge this person. They have invented their own rules, they’re playing an entirely new game.


From a 2022 study of the colors red and black, on their own and in combination, as found in US branding and culture. Part of a global study in which our friends at the UK agency Creative Semiotics invited us to participate; we also worked with Adam McGovern.

Tags: CODE-X