Saturday, February 14, 2009

Icons over time: Olympics

The olympics have presented a perfect opportunity for designers to create icons for each sport represented by these intense games.  The icons access exposure from a plethora of people from all over the world.  The icons must be carefully thought out and designed with consistency.  It's difficult to change what has already been designed, and to attempt to make it better in that it is more legible and comfortable to look at. 
 I found the icons at the Olympic games in Mexico to be the most interesting.  they really took the branding idea of these icons to a whole new level.  They repeated the design onto other surfaces, such as the actual track and field stadium.  The city was booming with design and olympic excitement.  The countries that designed the icons before Mexico were leaning towards a more abstract and illustrative design.  However,  in Munich Otl Aicher took the designs to a new level, and created a resonating pattern that we still see today.  The icons were influenced by him in the Montreal games as well as Moscow where they just tweaked the designs.  The idea of the abstract athlete was overcome in the Los Angeles designs.  They gave the icons more character by adding in more detail to give better inklings as to which sport the athletes were participating in.  Seoul threw out the idea of detail and created clunky arms and legs and paired them with a knocked out body.  The iconic images didn't denote the athletic body very affectively.  Barcelona must have noticed how bad they looked, because they came back with icons that were created using more of an organic character.  Atlanta rethought the idea of the icon and how it dealt with the history of the games.  They created compositions that were reminiscent of old greek pottery by incorporating detail and silhouettes.  Sydney did the same thing, except they decided to replace all of the athletes legs with the iconic boomerang to ring into their own culture.  They didn't realize, however, that all of the athletes started to look more like dancers.  Athens also continued the culture theme since they are the area where the olympics were originally held.  Torino switched up the icons on everyone and started to actually create something that wasn't an actual icon.  They included overlays of color instead of the traditional one-color theme.  Beijing stuck to the classic stick-figure theme, but they also played it into their culture.  
The olympics provide an interesting timeline of design.  I found it inspiring in the fact that it is such a big deal, and that the same themes have been passed down for so long.  It really puts into account that rules of design are very consistent, and their is consistency in the individual designs for each city.  

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