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July 16, 2012

Design takes gold at the Olympics

The London Olympics haven’t even started yet and we’re already exhausted! The roller coaster of events has left us breathless as a series of colossal highs and embarrassing lows leaves us unsure what to expect from the actual event! We won the bid, then thousands of applicants lose out on tickets. A huge sense of community and excitement is whipped up as the torch travels across the country, then G4S fails to train enough security! Finally,  we’re presented with travel worries and even streakers!

Here at Logic Design we’ve also noticed that this has been echoed from a design perspective, an affiliation between the unfolding events and key creative elements of the Olympic games.

The unveiling of the “childish” London 2012 logo in 2007  will go down in history as one of the worst receptions to a new brand on record! Designed by Wolff Olins, the design agency described it as ‘… unconventionally bold, deliberately spirited and unexpectedly dissonant, echoing London’s qualities of a modern, edgy city.’

Despite the media furore, I believe it’s fair to say that the country seems to have grown accustom to the garish icon. Like a pair of tattered, worn out old slippers we’re aware it barely serves the purpose for which it was created, looks ghastly to an outsider, but is unequivocally OURS and we’ve become comfortable to it’s less than perfect ways. This ‘all embracing’ national pride can only have been enhanced as the Olympic Torch is carried through our local villages, towns and cities. There’s something about seeing a national icon paraded past your own back garden that can melt the hardest of ice-cold cynics.

Opinion aside, the emblem seems to have lived up to its aims:

‘… the Games are more than London, more than sport. The Games are for everyone, regardless of age, culture and language.’

So design was just starting to turn opinion and get the critics behind the games the Olympic ambassador uniform was revealed – another garishly bright pink design! So bright in fact that Boris Johnson said to volunteers:

‘It’s quite striking, isn’t it? I hope you don’t feel too ridiculous. We need to overcome our natural British reserve and be a little bit more like the Australians!’

This ‘magenta’ colour is set to feature throughout the Games and whatever your views are on it, it will certainly do the job of making volunteers stand out!

In completely contrast to the ambassadors outfits the Team GB kit is revealed to be cool, clean and (in true British style) reserved.

 

The blue linear concept which utilises red as a powerful accent colour is stylish, and patriotic – a definite high for British design! Believe it or not we’ve actually already won gold! Not medals unfortunately but, as if to emphasise the way in which design has started to triumph, the Olympic Torch (shown below) has also now won the prestigious Design of the Year award. London Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic said the torch was:

“a triumph of symbolism and beauty”, stating that it “demonstrates how design can celebrate traditional qualities in a modern manner”.

It really has been an interesting few years for British designers. Like a marathon runner we’ve been slow and steady (after a couple of false starts!) Nevertheless, it would seem we’re finally into the final sprint as the commissioned designers start to pick up pace and create a games which is remembered for all the right reasons. Now it’s time for us to lose the cynicism, to be proud of all we’ve already accomplished. If the achievements of our nation’s designers are anything to go by, we can expect a summer of success!