Wednesday, 2 March 2011

London 2012 - beauty and the beast

It's crowded, expensive, showing its age and, in places, tatty, but the London Underground has one thing going for it - it's a showcase of good graphic design. From the Underground roundel symbol, to Harry Beck's circuit diagram-inspired map, to the ubiquitous Johnston Sans typeface, the look is crisp, clear and coherent.

In fact, it's everything that the London 2012 Olympics logo isn't. Just look at this:


Are your eyes hurting yet? Mine are. What a mess. And it cost £400,000. At its 2007 launch, Lord Coe gushed inexplicably that the image represented 'the vision at the very heart of our brand'. If that's really so, I'd recommend that the 2012 Olympics introduces testing for hallucinogenic, as well as performance-enhancing, drugs.

Given five minutes and an old Bic biro, I could have doodled something better than that, inspired by nothing more than a mild sense of boredom  The Register was suitably underwhelmed:

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell clearly spent too much time in the chill-out room absorbing whalesong from her iPod at the "star-studded" launch of the 2012 Olympics logo in London's Roundhouse earlier today, since she described the rather frightening graphic as both "an invitation and an inspiration" as VIPs battled to verbally out joss-stick each other.

According to the official blurb, the logo is "modern and will be dynamic, evolving in the years between now and 2012" and furthermore "symbolises the Olympic spirit and the ability of the Games to inspire people to take part - not just as spectators, but as volunteers, in the Cultural Olympiad and more"
The London 2012 logo deserved to be binned for being as bewilderingly ugly as the pre-facelift Fiat Mutipla without having the excuse of being useful in any way. Unfortunately, it's too late to replace it with something better now and, inexcusably horrible though it looks, I suppose anything that infuriates Ahmadinejad and Iran's Mad Mullahs can't be all bad.

 * London 2012 logo photograph © copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.