As the reach of any high profile football club stretches further than ever before – and the aspects that make up its visual identity are expected to do more than ever before – there has been renewed focus on the design of the beautiful game. This year CR has already covered new work for Juventus as they attempt go ‘beyond football’, while last year we reported in detail on the crest redesign taking shape at Aston Villa. In 2013, we wrote about Everton’s extremely short-lived redesign and its fan-chosen replacement.
As a study of how symbols become imbued with meaning over time, the history of football crests is an interesting yet relatively unexplored area of design. And, as far as CR is aware, there isn’t currently a resource that documents the design history of a medium that goes back to the late 19th-century. However, a recently launched project that has already hit its funding target on Kickstarter after just a few days, hopes to change that.
The Football Crest Index was conceived by James Kirkup, a senior digital designer at Studio Juice in London, and is billed as “a detailed history behind the crests of the 47 clubs to have graced the Premier League, represented by designers who support them”.
Kirkup’s initial interest in the history of football club crest design came from a visit to the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, he explains. “Discovering the background behind Barcelona’s crest made me realise the rich history behind clubs crests is so pivotal, so iconic and yet they’re never massively celebrated.
“A few years on from that visit I’d got to a point of doing a fair bit of digital design work that I wanted to do something in print again,” he says. “The thought of doing something with football was really exciting and the two thoughts came together to form The Football Crest Index.”
Having recently exceeded its funding target on Kickstarter, the Index is now set to become a reality. Alongside a host of images of historic crests and recent iterations, brief texts will detail the history of each club’s crest design and its meaning. There will also be a series of unique artworks running throughout the book created by a fan of each of the featured clubs.
“Since launching on Kickstarter we’ve been quite lucky with more designers who have worked at clubs in the past getting in touch, but we’ve been quite unlucky when it comes to design references directly from the clubs involved,” Kirkup adds.
“However the invitation is fully open to anyone wants to come forward to let us know they worked on a crest, past or present.”
With funding still growing, Kirkup now has the potential to develop the project further. “We had [an] initial idea of putting together a gallery event that showcases all the artwork from the designers involved in the book and then enables us to raise more money for the charities we’re working with,” he says.
“That’s something we can now achieve now that the book phase is completely funded. We’re chatting with a couple of organisations that have done similar, successful things in the past like Secret 7 for instance [where artists create sleeves for limited editions of seven inch singles], to make sure we do things to the best of our ability.”
If Kirkup’s volume focusing on the Premier League is a success, the designer plans to turn his attention to the graphic design of club crests from other football leagues in Europe such as La Liga in Spain, the Bundesliga in Germany and Italy’s Serie A.