Review of the Year – Design and the London Olympics

In the run-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, design was gathering pace, with structural, graphics, branding and product briefs all being delivered.

The Olympic torch, by Barber Osgerby
The Olympic torch, by Barber Osgerby

Arguably the most coveted brief was the Olympic torch design – an honour which went to Barber Osgerby, which created a gold-coloured design with 8000 perforated circles, representing the 8000 torchbearers who take it on a 70-day relay next year.

As well as a Heatherwick-designed cauldron to hold the torch, there were event medals. Jewellery designer Lin Cheung cast the Paralympic medal designs from an impression of Nike, Greek Goddess of Victory, found in the British Museum. The Olympic medals, meanwhile, were designed by artist David Watkins.

The Olympic medals, designed by David Watkins
The Olympic medals, designed by David Watkins

With so many brands wanting to align themselves with the event – particularly sports brands – consultancies began to be engaged. Imagination looked to create Asics a hospitality and brand showcase venue for the Games.

British Airways turned to Tracey Emin to judge a tail-fin livery competition, and the artist is now working alongside winner Pascal Anson to create a design for 12 aircraft flying in guests and teams coming to the Games.

Meanwhile artists were chosen over graphic designers to work on the official Olympics posters, a decision which saw Emin again, selected alongside Martin Creed and 10 other artists. The results caused some controversy.

Olympic poster Birds, by Tracey Emin
Olympic poster Birds, by Tracey Emin

And the very sports that make up the Games were ripe for a rebrand this year, notably British Fencing, which appropriated this Go Fence treatment, designed by Shaw and Skerm.

Mercifully merchandising went beyond gift shop products to include, most notably a Sir Anthony Caro-designed commemorative 22-carat 1kg coin – yours for £100,000.

From the moment the games were won legacy has been front-of-mind for organisers and in August the Olympic Park Legacy Company launched a competition to create a public space in the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford, where two visitor centers and a playground are now expected.

John Sorrell and Lin Cheung with the Paralympic medals
John Sorrell and Lin Cheung with the Paralympic medals

In the last two weeks Small Back Room has launched a brand for the first residential development which will grow out of the Olympic Park. East Village will now be marketed ahead of 2013 opening when 2818 new homes are expected.

All the while, looming over the Olympic Park, the Westfield Stratford shopping centre (covered in depth in our 2011 retail design round-up here) took shape, bringing with it retail concepts, foodcourts by Softroom, wayfinding by Populous, lighting by Lee Broom and a water feature by Jason Bruges.

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  • Karen Crane November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    They should quickly change ‘occassion’ to correctly spelled ‘occasion’ on their website opening splash page.

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