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From Athens 1896 to Tokyo 2020. The first book featuring the identity of every Olympic Games.
525 backers pledged CHF 102,351 to help bring this project to life.
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“Olympism is not a system. It is a state of mind." Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympic Games

Olympic Games – The Design 

One idea, 2 volumes, 57 Olympic Games, 160 designers, 6,500 images on 1,600 pages and one million hours of research in order to show the iconic symbols and the graphic imagery of the Olympic Games of the modern era. 

You might love the London 2012 dynamic pictograms or the Munich ’72 rainbow colors, the Tokyo ’64 minimalist logo, the Mexico ’68 all-over stripes, the Los Angeles ’84  confetti look or the Lillehammer ’94 local approach. 

When was the first logo, the first pictogram, the first design manual? 

Each edition of the Olympic Games has a unique identity and many of its design elements have been carried forward. As a matter of fact, some of these identities have been a great challenge for designers, but even more, they have marked milestones in the development of corporate design. 

Olympic Games – The Design is the first book to focus on the visual identities of every Games from Athens 1896 to Tokyo 2020.

“Great idea”, Stefan Sagmeister

The book is on the home straight! 

After 30 years of research, the last chapters of the the first-ever book are almost finished. The last year has been an intense one, with 24/7 working days. During this time I have selected the images, processed copyright issues and written the texts that will contribute to the preservation of knowledge about different time periods.

On this journey through history you will discover amazing facts and stories, while exploring an extraordinary number of Olympic design examples from my private archive and other public and private sources from all over the world.

The book provides a detailed account of the work of 160 designers that shaped the face of the Olympic Games. Many superstars of the international designer scene experienced a career boost, if not a career breakthrough, thanks to their creative work for the event. These include Armando Testa, Yusaku Kamakura, Roger Excoffon, Otl Aicher, Deborah Sussman, Javier Mariscal, Theodora Mantzaris and Asao Tokolo.

Erich Brechbühl, Fons Hickmann, Javier MariscalDebbie Millman, Erik Spiekermann, Stefan Sagmeister and Sascha Lobe are supporting this project with special contributions.

In the US and P.R. China this first-ever book is ONLY available during the campaign on Kickstarter and will NOT be available in bookshops!

Officially licensed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

This book will show the challenges that designers have to face when they create the identity of the Olympic Games.

“The Winter Games in Lillehammer should have a unified visual profile of high quality, with the emphasis on Norway’s distinctive features, traditions and national character.” Petter T. Moshus, graphic designer LOOC, Head of Design.

More than 120 years of Olympic design – a mammoth task

“It’s fine collecting something, but turning this into a book, making it precise, giving all the quotes and the resources? Obviously, someone who is doing this must be crazy.” Erik Spiekermann

The branding of the Olympic Games is probably one of the most complex projects you could ever have. From the logo to merchandising products – everything has to be designed in accordance with the host city’s guidelines and those of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It might be easy, because everybody loves it. It might be difficult, because lots of different things have to be managed, not only esthetically. You have to work in a large team, where decisions are taken by many people with individual interests. 

No doubt it is a great task to create the identity of the Games and also to write a book about it! 

In order to bring this monumental project to fruition, it was essential to work with a publisher from the beginning. Markus Sebastian Braun (Niggli Verlag) was rapidly convinced “that this treasure [of design history] has to be packed between two book covers”.

It turned out that the publication had to have two volumes instead of one and consequently required financial investment and exceptionally high personal commitment from everyone who would be involved in the publishing process.

Now we need your support to bring this compilation of Olympic design to life!  

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Well-structured information and lots of in-depth views

The visual identities are structured chronologically. 57 of the 58 chapters look at one edition of the Games each including statistics and 13 sections on specific topics (contents). Additionally, one chapter presents the history of the Olympic rings. Five foldout sheets give an overview on the key design topics from the birth of the Modern Games to the present.

Statistics: Name, Date, Duration, Countries, Athletes, Events, Disciplines, President of the Organizing Committee, Head of Design Department, Designer of the emblem, main poster, pictograms and mascot.

Contents: Background, Emblem, Colors, Typography, Design Manual, Main marks, Sport Pictograms, Signage, Look of the Games, Games equipment, Mascot, Printed matter and Merchandising. 

Foldout sheets: 5 sheets with a chronological overview on the key design topics (logos, pictograms, mascots, official posters and the Look of the Games); 6 sheets with the complete set of signage pictograms of Munich 1972, Barcelona 1992, Nagano 1998, Sydney 2002, Torino 2006, PyoengChang 2018. 

“It’s hard to believe that the Olympic Games – The Design will be the first book of its kind. Then again, with the book racking up a mammoth 1,600 pages (which had to be split over two volumes), perhaps it’s not so surprising that everyone else has avoided the mountainous task thus far.” Megan Williams, Creative Review (full article for subscribers HERE)

Foldout sheet: the history of the emblem.
Foldout sheet: the history of the emblem.
Foldout sheet: from illustrative figures to pictograms.
Foldout sheet: from illustrative figures to pictograms.
Foldout sheet: the Barcelona ’92 info pictograms.
Foldout sheet: the Barcelona ’92 info pictograms.

This publication is huge!

About 6,500 images

Around 1,600 pages

12 foldout sheets

6.5 kg

210 x 285 mm

2 linen hardcover volumes in a slipcase

Printed matter: admission tickets.
Printed matter: admission tickets.

“That’s the fun of a designer to find out what is really specific about the particular place that you also communicate towards the world.” Erik Spiekermann

The 1964 Games brought the birth of both modern pictograms and sports photography. It was the beginning of minimalist graphics, as they are still used today.  For the first time typography became an important part of the visual identity.

The Mexico ’68 Games mark the beginning of corporate design, in which all elements such as emblems, fonts, colors, pictograms, printed matter, merchandising, etc. harmonize perfectly and convey a clear message. It was the first host city to have a Look of the Games. However, this term was only used for the first time 16 years later in Los Angeles in 1984. 

The Mexico ‘68 sports pictograms.
The Mexico ‘68 sports pictograms.
 Montréal ’76 emblem integrating national elements.
Montréal ’76 emblem integrating national elements.
A visual identity influenced by the cultural heritage of the Olympic Games.
A visual identity influenced by the cultural heritage of the Olympic Games.

“Some Olympic Games have been a sort of design games”, Erik Spiekermann

What is the vocabulary designers use or invent to embrace the challenge of communicating the Olympic spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play? How to integrate local particularities within an international frame and doing this with the aim to create a temporary Olympic identity? 

The host’s logo changes, but the symbol of the five interlocked rings and the message last

Host cities of the Olympic Games prepare the stage to cause people’s euphoria. They make up their face with individual logos, uniforms, mascots, signage and wayfinding systems, and sports facilities. Some wave the flags and dip their city in national colors to welcome competitors and sports enthusiasts from all over the world. Others dress up by remixing and inventing colors, forms and symbols with the aim to visualize the Olympic spirit and make the event a memorable festive coming together.

The particularity of the corporate identities of the Olympic Games is that designers have to embrace the challenge of working on an exceptional wide range of design fields and situating a national identity in a global context.

Each venue has its own unique image, merging national and international trends with the Olympic spirit.

At the end it’s all about creating the big picture – it’s the look of the Games that gets stuck in people’s heads. 

LA ’84 saw the first appearance of the term “Look of the Games”. It has been part of the Olympic vocabulary ever since.
LA ’84 saw the first appearance of the term “Look of the Games”. It has been part of the Olympic vocabulary ever since.

"[LA ’84] was so of the time, of this 1980s California lifestyle. Lots of colors, very noisy, also very improvised. In a good sense like Hollywood. It showed that our business is all about to make believe." Erik Spiekermann

Dressing up for the world

LA ’84 would be the first Games to become a truly global television event. This broadcast would run 180 hours and be seen by the largest audience in history. Sussman/Prejza had been commissioned to upgrade the existing old stadiums in the Los Angeles area to Olympic standards. Not only sports facilities, but also the whole city was immersed in a South-Californian and Latin American color palette.

“The Munich Olympics were very logically and cerebrally designed and it looked great! [...] We didn’t have time for philosophies. We just thought what was right, what was our work, what was gonna be doable in the time and with lack of money." Deborah Sussman, graphic designer LA ’84 

The ambition to get and to give all information

Almost 30 years ago I began to travel to the Games and to interview designers, because this is the first source and this is the real source that you need in order to capture the entire historical background. That’s why Olympic Games – The Design also features things that no one has seen before. 

But it was not before being totally in it that I noticed which information is still missing. So I spent a lot of time in the last few months to find the respective designers and record their stories. That was very time-consuming, but extremely exciting. The best thing about it is that I now have a friendly relationship with many of them. 

The desire of completeness pushed me to collect as systematically as possible, keeping always the idea in mind to get and to give all information. Today, I have got around 70,000 pieces home in Herisau/Switzerland, 100,000 digital images and videos of the interviews – and the collection is still growing every day! 

Meeting designers worldwide and looking for the true stories.
Meeting designers worldwide and looking for the true stories.

“This great book about the design of all Olympic Games has to be published!” Claudia Gerdes, PAGE magazine (only German, read the full article HERE)

With Eduardo Terrazas, urban planner Mexico ’68.
With Eduardo Terrazas, urban planner Mexico ’68.
Sketch of the 2008 Beijing mascot by designer Guanying Wu.
Sketch of the 2008 Beijing mascot by designer Guanying Wu.

“First we thought to publish the collection in one volume, but it soon turned out that we would need two volumes. This drove up the costs dramatically which is why we need this platform to provide financial security for this incredible book project.

Furthermore, due to agreements between NOCs and the IOC, it is not possible for us as a publishing house to distribute the title in the USA and P.R. China. In this two countries it is only available via Kickstarter.

At Niggli we would be delighted if you would recognize the value of this collection and support the project by placing trust in the quality of our publications.” Markus Sebastian Braun, publisher

Publisher Markus Sebastian Braun
Publisher Markus Sebastian Braun

Rewards

The Olympic poster bundle 

·  One copy of Olympic Games – The Design 

·  A limited numbered edition of Homage to the design of the Olympic Games by Swiss Erich Brechbühl 

· Screen printed in Strasbourg, France

Switzerland has a long tradition of poster design. That’s why we asked renowned poster designer Erich Brechbühl to create a limited edition poster size Weltformat (Swiss world format) of 90.5 x 128 cm (approx. 35.5 x 50.5 inches) for this campaign. 

Take a look at the work of Erich Brechbühl here.  And read an article on It‘s nice that HERE.

Homage to the design of the Olympic Games by Erich Brechbühl
Homage to the design of the Olympic Games by Erich Brechbühl

The Munich ’72 Waldi & Co. bundle

·  One copy of Olympic Games – The Design 

·  Authentic unplayed wooden toy mascot Olympia Waldi, 34 cm (Steiff)

·  A pair of original cuff links, silver

· An original calendar cube, paper

·  A decoration block with Munich ’72 logo, plexiglass

The Rome ’60 poster bundle 

·  One copy of Olympic Games – The Design 

·  One official poster of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, 70 x 100 cm 

 The Munich ’72 torch bundle

·  One copy of Olympic Games – The Design 

·  An original torch of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich,  engraved stainless steel, 73 cm 

 The admission tickets bundle

·  One copy of Olympic Games – The Design

·  3 admission tickets from different Olympic Games of 3 different collector’s values/ price ranges (surprise)

Special thanks to

All of you for reading this and for backing the publication!

Erich Brechbühl for giving us his view on the design of the posters of the Olympic Games and creating his individual one for this campaign.

Erich Brechbühl is a Lucerne-based independent graphic designer focusing on poster and corporate design. www.erichbrechbuhl.ch

Fons Hickmann for exploring the design of the Olympic Games.

Fons Hickmann is graphic designer and typographer. His studio Fons Hickmann m23 in Berlin specializes in the development of complex communication systems, book, poster, magazine, corporate design and digital media.

Sascha Lobe for exploring the visual identities of the Olympic Games.

Sascha Lobe is a graphic designer working at the intersection of architecture and graphic design, he joined Pentagram as a partner in June 2018. www.pentagram.com

Javier Mariscal for bringing us closer to the world of mascot design.

Spanish designer and illustrator Javier Mariscal designed the mascot Cobi for Barcelona ’92. www.mariscal.com

Debbie Millman for the insights into the Olympic Games logo design. 

New York-based Debbie Millman is a writer, educator, artist, designer and host of the podcast Design Matters.

Erik Spiekermann for his approach to the Olympic pictograms and for his personal commitment to the presentation of the topic of the book.

Erik Spiekermann is a Berlin and San Francisco-based typographer, designer and art historian. His typefaces have become standards and he has developed design systems for global brands. www.spiekermann.com

p98a.berlin for hosting us during the shooting of the video.

p.98a.berlin is a letterpress studio focusing on beautiful timeless printing methods. www.p98a.com

Interviewing Erik Spiekermann at letterpress studio p98a.berlin.
Interviewing Erik Spiekermann at letterpress studio p98a.berlin.

Credits 

Creator Markus Osterwalder

Campaign manager Sandra Ellegiers

Video: writer, director Sandra Ellegiers; producer Johann Buchholz, www.fridayfilm.de; director of photography Emma Rosa Simon; editor Robert Bohrer.

The archive in Herisau, Switzerland.
The archive in Herisau, Switzerland.

Risks and challenges

With Niggli the production and distribution of “Olympic Games - The Design” is guaranteed. The Swiss publishing house is a traditional company (since 1950) with an international orientation, which has a lot of experience in the effective management of worldwide shipping. For years, the international distribution has been managed by renowned partners in Europe and the United States of America.
If any problems pop up, which is part of life, we are confident that we have the experience, the knowledge and the commitment in combination with a fantastic network of partners and friends to find solutions for almost any situation. We know that at the end of a long journey, we will have an amazing product that will meet and even exceed the exacting expectations of all of us and of you, our audience.

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    Get an exclusive insight with a tour into my private collection, which is one of the biggest in the world. Before or after you are invited to enjoy a homemade lunch or dinner with the publisher and me. Bring a friend!

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    The Rome ’60 poster bundle

    The original poster of the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
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