Olympic Designs

Today in my Concept of Design class at Pratt, we discussed architect, theorist and critic Adolf Loos. If you are not familiar with Loos, he was a pioneer of modern architecture and was best known as the leading figure in the reaction against Art Nouveau in the early 1900’s. Loos’s philosophy was not to eliminate ornament but of the elimation of the waste of labor and human skill. He believed the lack of ornament was a sign of spiritual strength, an aesthetic of only those who lived on a higher level of culture. Those who could break away from the ancestor of pictorial art and move forward to the modernist style of “nakedness”. One very unique building he designed (which was never erected) was a house for parisian Josephine Baker, as seen below.

Borrowed from Pentagram.com

In 2008, Abbott Miller of Pentagram put together an exhibition of pieces connecting with Loos’s work. “Brno Echo (ex bition name) stages a lively dialogue between historical and contemporary design around the subject of “modern ornament.” Adolf Loos’ 1908 manifesto “Ornament and Crime” serves as the conceptual foundation for the exhibition that looks at the recurrence of concentric lines and patterns that constitute a fundamental grammar of modern ornament, connecting everything from the Wiener Werkstätte through Pop Art to current variants of retro-futurism. The exhibition creates a kind of graphic echo chamber in which typefaces, posters, textiles and furniture reveal a cosmopolitan dialogue that crosses time, geography and media.”

One of the works included in this exhibition was the 1968 Mexico summer Olympics. Borrowed from Pentagram.comI wanted to include this in the spirit of our present Vancouver 2010 Winter games and to remind ourselves how much design work goes into the creation of each Olympic trail. Seen here is, to me, a very unique example of a design campaign which really pushed the limits. Today was the first time I had every seen this olympic identity and “wow” defiantly came out of my month. The complexity of these graphics with the bold black and white contrast are very interesting – and different from Vancouver or Beijing’s summer 2008. For more information on these 1968 design, here is Design journal I found online written at that time of these games.

I find the Olympics to be one of the most complex design campaigns someone could ever partake in and I do hope to one day be able to work on one. There is no project more honorable.

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