Design and identity of the Olympic Games / by Jilly Traganou

Traganou, Jilly

Edited by The Olympic Studies Centre - 2024

From the creation of emblems to the building of stadiums, design is paramount in the making of every Olympic Games. The designers’ task is to express the core ideas of Olympism and internationalism, and to represent or even rebrand the host nation’s identity. In examining how Olympics design communicates these different types of identity, this article presents some characteristic approaches of designers throughout the Games’ history who chose familiar iconographies (e.g., Yusaku Kamekura, whose design for the Tokyo 1964 emblem carried a symbol reminiscent of Japan’s flag) and others who strove for new expressions (e.g., Wolff Olins’ 2012 emblem that embodied no visual connection to London). It further reveals a range of visual languages developed for sports pictograms articulating different ideas of internationalism and place-based identity, from Otl Aicher’s grid-based approach for Munich 1972 to Lance Wyman’s iconic language for Mexico City 1968.

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