We need a design champion to oversee the Olympics logo

While the national media dropped the 2012 London Olympics logo debacle as storm clouds gathered over Wimbledon, the design community has refused to have its ardour dimmed by the onset of a tennis tournament.

But while immediate reaction to Wolff Olins’ endeavors was largely damning, reason is setting in, with the likes of Landor Associates creative head Peter Knapp and Michael Wolff urging us to consider the implications of our reception of the logo.

Wolff in particular has been in the media firing line, given his past association with the consultancy behind it, and has been consistently supportive of the identity. His wisdom now in a letter urging the design community to apply the same critical appraisal to other work shows a shrewd mind frustrated by the poor standards of creative work being accepted by clients. If designers heed his call and push that bit further we might be getting somewhere.

Clients are generally blamed for the mediocrity that pervades design and, while designers should take more responsibility for the quality of their own output, you could certainly argue that a committee decision has given us an Olympics marque that isn’t up to scratch. Had the organisers appointed a design champion to oversee the process and challenge the designers it might not be so. There would at least be passion behind the choice.

But it isn’t too late for this to happen. If, as we are told, the design we have seen is ‘raw’ and ripe for development and if, as Wolff and others have said, the thinking behind it is sound, why not bring in someone now to take it through to its final manifestation in the build-up to the games?

And who better to take on the role than Wolff himself? His rare creativity and vast design management experience make him the prime candidate. If Gordon Brown wants to boost his standing in design as he settles in as Prime Minister, a moment’s intervention here could help him, design’s reputation and the nation’s pride.

Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor

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