With just under two years to go, the The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (or, mercifully, BOCOG for short) have released what, for many designers will be a result far more interesting than the efforts of a few thousand sweaty athletes.
Yes, the winners of a competition to design the new set of Olympic Pictograms have been annnounced. And very cool they are too.
Apparently, their design “integrates [the] pictographic charm of inscriptions on bones and bronze objects in ancient China with [the] simplified embodiment of modern graphics”. There is one for each of the 35 sports to be played at the 2008 Games. The pictograms will be used on signage and wayfaring systems, for environmental graphics, on marketing materials and souvenirs and in TV broadcasts.
The design process behind them sounds almost as long-winded as training for a marathon. Back in March 2005, BOCOG invited “four professional design institutes and organisations” to submit ideas for the project. A design based on characters from ancient Chinese seals from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts and another from the Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University, based on string were both shortlisted.
And so, in time-honoured tradition, the client apparently fudged it and asked both of them to work together to produce the final set. Once the finished designs were submitted, they were sent around all 28 International Sports Federations for approval. This finally came through in June this year when the International Olympic Committee gave the nod.
Otl Eicher’s Munich 72 pictograms may still set the (forgive the pun) gold standard (see them and sets for other recent games down page here.) but the combined efforts of China Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University are a worthy addition to the Games’ graphic history.
Such a tortuous process might have been expected to suck all the joy out of the project, but the results are agreeably charming in their eccentricity. Especially the one for Diving.