On the ball: Introduction

As the world sharpens its collective pencil and prepares to do battle with its World Cup wallcharts, Yolanda Zappaterra sees if their design can take the pace

Designing a world cup guide is child’s play, surely? You have a bunch of teams playing a set number of games over a month in a range of venues. More than half of those games will have been decided at least three months before, and the remainder, the knock-out rounds, are clearly established too: winner of group A plays runner-up in group C at venue X on date Y at time Z. It’s not rocket science.

So why is most of the design in what should be a fun, expressive sector so terrible? Simon Preece, head of business development at Elmwood, whose profile in Korea will be high thanks to its branding work for the England squad and its England Fans identity for the Football Association, puts it down to the pack-it-all-in-approach. ‘Wallcharts could be much better designed if people thought about conveying passion and emotion rather than producing a piece of work that’s simply information overload. It comes down to simplicity.’

Rose Design creative director Simon Elliott agrees, ‘For me, most guides suffer from superfluous padding. For example, too much speculative conjecture on group winners and finalists is not helpful – that’s the job of every arm-

chair pundit.’

But as anyone who’s ever sat near the compulsory match bore will know, a lot of armchair pundits would disagree. They love the irrelevant details, and would be outraged if their guide didn’t impart such essentials as the humidity in the Nagai Stadium. So if the majority of the guides are simply ‘giving people what they expect, which is a shame for both parties’, as When Saturday Comes art editor Doug Cheeseman laments, is there scope for a different approach? The start of the 2002 World Cup seems like a good time to find out.

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