The Olympics: A Celebration of Winning Design 

Sep 22, 2019 - Gregory Lass

Every two years, the Olympics are the main event in my household for the entire two weeks they are televised. And as a designer, I’m always interested in the overall look of everything. 

From the medals, fashion, equipment, architecture to how countries brand themselves. The opening ceremonies alone are a celebration of color and design reflected through the athletes we cheer on to victory. I’m even interested in how NBC brands themselves with a unique peacock emblem for their broadcast coverage of the Games.   

Branding the Olympics in the modern era incorporates three principle elements: the Olympic Rings, an emblem of the host city and the visual look for the Games. This year’s Olympics emblem is a pillar and star combination that stand above the words "PyeongChang 2018," with the Olympic logo underneath. The pillar and star symbolize a world open to everyone, with all people coming together in PyeongChang, where heaven meets earth. 

I think it’s interesting to note that these symbols are planned years in advance. For example, the main emblem used this year in South Korea was already designed and revealed in 2013. Many of the graphics throughout this year’s Olympics are based on that initial design. Many designs incorporate motifs of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. It’s a beautifully balanced and fluid looking language, representative of the athletes themselves.

As a designer, I appreciate the confluence of abstract visuals, color, cultural influence, symbolism and aesthetic elements of each Olympic Games, winter and summer, which are always special and unique. 

I’m already looking forward to the summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020!