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Graphics of the Games

The Olympics are back! And with them another chance to celebrate (1) amazing athletic achievement, (2) the music of John Williams, and (3) the graphic design that helps countries and athletes present themselves to the world. I thought I'd make this a Tumblr-style post cataloging my favorite examples of design from the Rio 2016 Summer Games.

Of course it all starts with that gorgeous custom typeface.

Created by Tátil Design, in collaboration with the typographers at Dalton Maag (read about their process here), this wordmark has a sense of movement and energy that perfectly expresses the Olympics and the dynamic spirit of this year's host city. The typeface is based on the logo, which was inspired by the geographic contours of Rio's natural beauty.

Tátil Design

Tátil Design

After the much-maligned London 2012 logo and typeface, it's great to have a graphic identity that I love seeing every time it comes on screen (which is about every 5 seconds).

The NBC version of the logo is a little less inspired.

It actually looks like they were consciously trying to evoke the birds from the animated movie of the same name.

I'm still not sure if there's any significance to the blue/yellow/green shapes in the background, but they look nice and feel in the same family as the main logo.

Speaking of Olympic logos, here's a critique of all of them by revered graphic designer Milton Glaser. Most of them don't work nearly as well as Rio's, so we should enjoy it while it lasts — the logos for PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 are pretty terrible in my book.


And here are a few more examples of standout design from Rio:

The Italian men's volleyball team, looking like Formula 1 race cars.

The Russian uniforms. A great sense of history in the use of angles and Constructivist letterforms.

Team USA's medal ceremony jackets. Made by Nike, inspired by Spider-man.

The mosaic graphics that announce/transition the events, which evoke Rio's street art landmark, the Lapa Steps (Seláron Staircase).

The water droplet effect that transitions to commercials — very cool.

The Japanese men's gymnastics uniforms, inspired I think by the geometric forms of legendary Japanese graphic designer Ikko Tanaka.

Michael Phelps' logo. It's all right there.

Greg Morrison2 Comments