Rio Olympics Logo Debacle.

Screen shot 2011-01-17 at 5.00.40 PM

On New Year’s Eve, Brazil’s Olympic commission revealed the official logo for the 2016 Olympics. While crowds cheered and the commission shook hands with dignitaries, voices around the world, especially in the bloggosphere cried “plagarism!!!” Not very flattering for the design team to hear I’m sure.

3 D version

3 D version

Here is what the financial times had to say: “What at first glance could resemble an upturned ornament or a falling table lamp is on closer inspection three bendy coloured figurines linking limbs. Look up the logo for the Telluride Foundation, the philanthropic organisation, or Matisse’s “La Danse” to see what the bloggers are on about.”

Screen shot 2011-01-23 at 5.20.56 PM800px-La_danse_(I)_by_Matisse

A quick look at the Telluride website and true enough, it looks like a total proverbial “bite,” or rip off. However, it would be unjust to judge too much, because, lets face it, people dancing in a circle is an image that has been propagated in popular culture again and again, and most famously by Matisse. Indeed, as creative director Fred Gelli said, “the symbol of a dancing circle is universal.” In reply, bloggers and journalists have said that this comment basically admits to a lack of creativity. But really, is anything original?? Many would argue that the best things are just new takes on old images and experiences.

An article in the world famous Guardian newspaper proposes that the logo does complete the most important factor for an olympic logo: “inoffensiveness.” While the article does to a certain degree tear the logo apart and compares it to previous olympic logo attempts like London and Athens. Their tagline reads: ” Brazil’s motif for the 2016 Games is a politically correct damp squib, like too many others before. If only the politicians would let designers do their thing.” So basically the whole point of an Olympic logo is to be political neutral, in other words inoffensive.

So lets’s look at the positive traits. The logo uses Brazil’s three colours from their flag, blue, green and yellow. It is three dimensional, so you can make a sculpture of it and walk through. It is also reminiscent of Rio’s incredible landscape, the most awesome city/landscape in the world.

Negatives: The three colours fade into each other, (can you say “cheesy”). Does the logo, as the Financial Times said, convey a modern happening city?? hmm not really, maybe in 2016, let’s wait and see. How many people see the city/lanscape in the logo and what is up with the cheesy brushstroke-effect script beneath it?

a happy moment for the team...

a happy moment for the team...

So that’s the gist of the debate. I think that over time the critics will ease up on this logo, I mean c’mon, considering what the creative minds had to overcome I think it is a bit clever: The dancing circle is universal and very common in Brazilian cultural traditions that involve African Native traditions and lots of song and dance. The three colours remind us of the three peoples who make the bulk of Brazil’s national identity, the Europeans, the Native Americans and the Africans, and it’s 3 D, how “next thing on the market” is that? In terms of the whole issue of logos and and politics and the Olympics, I would agree with Justin McGuirk, the design expert from the Guardian: ” No longer are art directors with a singular vision given the responsibility they need to create something unique and memorable. There are too many boxes to tick now; the whole process has been health-and-safetied. Politicians believe that the branding is too important to leave to designers. They really ought to loosen up – you never know, they might get themselves a decent logo.”

All I can say is that I can’t wait until the Olympics in Rio!

Alex Bordokas

In categories: Lifestyle & Sports, News
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23 January 2011

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