The creative legacy of the London 2012 Olympics

In the wake of the London 2012 Olympics, thoughts are now turning to legacy, and while everyone is preoccupied with sporting or built environment legacy, little attention is being paid to the potential legacy for the UK’s creative industries.


The creative sector was integral to the success of the Games, from the design of the venues themselves, the graphics and public art in the Olympic Park to Danny Boyle’s brilliant opening ceremony.

And it’s imperative that this creative high-point should have a lasting effect. Here are three things that might help.

Heatherwick Studio's Olympic cauldron

Source: Ceremonies Explorer

Heatherwick Studio’s Olympic cauldron

• Designers must be allowed to promote their work for the Olympics or similar events. For the London 2012 Olympics, marketing restrictions from Locog meant the majority of designers involved in the Games were effectively gagged from talking about their work.

Over in the architecture sector this led to protests from the likes of New London Architecture chairman Peter Murray, who famously wore a T-shirt listing all the ‘gagged’ architects and engineers, while in the graphics sector, restrictions left those involved in, for example, the logo and the pictograms unable to fully talk about their projects.

As Murray pointed out with his protest, events like this are an amazing opportunity for the creative industries to promote their work overseas, yet designers were restricted from doing this. This must not be allowed to happen with future events.

• The physical legacy of the Olympics should be used in the best way possible. After such a huge investment, it seems crazy that the future occupant of the Olympic Stadium is still undecided, and the Olympic media centre was reportedly set to be demolished before digital developer iCity agreed to develop it as a digital hub.

The Olympics has changed a huge area of east London, from the built environment to transport links, and the opportunities to promote small businesses there must not be missed.

Sun dancers at the Olympic opening ceremony

Source: Nick J Webb

Sun dancers at the Olympic opening ceremony

• Government should recognise the contribution design and the creative industries made to the Olympics. Sir Terence Conran this week called for Government to support a ‘design mating agency’ that would pair up designers with venture capitalists, to continue the success of the Olympics.

While mechanisms like this currently exist in various forms (for example Kickstarter) and there is some debate over whether this might be the most useful thing for the industry, Conran’s point remains – that Government needs to recognise the importance of design, and do concrete things to back it.

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Papi November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The only creative legacy to come out of the Olympics.

  • Michael Holman November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    We should be as proud of those involved in the design of the games as we are of the athletes. The event showcased the UK brilliantly upon the world stage and due recognition needs to be given.

    Conran’s vision deserves support.

  • Urbanaut November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The Transport For London team must also be heralded for a gold performance too. I’ve never experienced the city running so smoothly in the 10+ years I’ve been there. Good job.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles