Inspired by the similarly named Ballon d’Or, a prestigious honour bestowed on the European Footballer of the Year, the Ballon D’raw is a playful look at the links between football and design.
Famous winners of the Ballon d’Or have been celebrated in posters designed by student Mark Frances. Spiel is writing a series of essays to accompany each of these, and new print/essay editions will become available every week from the Spiel website.
The essays primarily explore the footballer and touch on their wider cultural context – particularly the graphic style they have been cast in by Frances, and the designer that he has tried to emulate.
Frances’ poster series comprises Lev Yashin, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Eusebio in a range of appropriate design styles.
For the Cruyff piece Frances took inspiration from graphic designer and typographer Wim Crouwel. Both Cruyff and Crouwel ‘played an important role on the Dutch culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s and shared a common belief that beauty must be central to their work,’ according to Spiel editor Paul Gleeson.
Or as Crouwel himself once said, ‘The grid is like the lines on a football field. You can play a great game in the grid or a lousy game. But the goal is to play a really fine game’.
Lev Yashin, the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon D’or, has been artworked in a way which draws on the Dynamo Moscow keeper’s prominent place in Soviet culture, merging elements of agitprop with footballing imagery.
Jean Widmer’s work inspired the Platini print and both men shared an ability to combine simplicity and elegance to stunning effect. While Platini’s rise to prominence in the national team was at the heart of the ‘Carré Magique’, Widmer’s grid-based work gained international recognition with his logo and branding work for the Pompidou Centre.
‘By bringing together creativity on the field and in the studio, the Ballon D’raw series shows there is more to the relationship between design and football than a hastily redesigned club crest,’ says Gleeson.
Meanwhile the wider context of this project, which is ongoing, is for the university to build links with creative companies and to expose students to the demands of commercial practice.