Tokyo has unveiled its logos for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and they’re awful.
From the awkward Clarendon-esque serif font – positioned too close to the image – that looks like something you’d see at the top of a stereo manual from the 1980s, to the simplistic, drab colour planes of the figure that look like something an unimaginative biotech company would leap on, it’s a hideous, retrograde mess.
The half-negative Paralympic figure is less bad, but they managed to screw the pooch by mixing the already-bad serif font with an gimcrack Gothic sans serif, the most overused, badly applied typeface style of the last ten years – and some commentators have suggested that it has been Frankensteined out of several other well known fonts. Mixing sans and serifs is always tricky – here it’s terrible, like two strangers forced to share a bed. It makes the much maligned London 2012 logo (which grew on me a lot) look like Swiss poetry in comparison.
It’s a shame, because it seems to want to reference the logo Tokyo developed for the 1964 Games; perhaps the single greatest piece of Olympic communication of all time.
The rising sun logo by Yusaku Kamekura, with its tightly condensed sans-serif brought modernist, minimalist design and typography to the world, marking a Games where Japan really came out of its post-war slump. He also designed several great posters which have influenced Games designers ever since.
Even the relatively unchallenging candidate city bid logo, with its cherry blossoms, ’64-aping red dot, and conservative DIN font, was better than the current final choice:
Still, perhaps it’s a grower. As mentioned, the engaging, divisive London 2012 logo grew on me a lot, although the typeface never did. It just seems like a missed opportunity to show the world a semblance of a new Japan, still reeling from nuclear disaster and long-term economic downturn.
But if the plans for the equally bad stadium design can be revised, maybe this can be too. Rant over.
UPDATE: September – The logos have been scrapped due to ongoing plagiarism row. Read more here.
UPDATE: October – Do you want to design the logos? Now’s your chance…
Someone on Twitter suggested another inspiration for the logo.
More about the logo and a short film here: http://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1028916/tokyo-2020-unveil-olympic-and-paralympic-games-emblems
You can read what I wrote about Olympic archery pictograms here.