City in Gunma dumps controversial designer's museum logo


The city of Ota, Gunma Prefecture, has ditched a public museum logo designed by Kenjiro Sano, whose work for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was withdrawn amid a plagiarism controversy, Mayor Masayoshi Shimizu said Friday.

Sano’s design for the museum and library building, currently under construction and scheduled to open in October 2016, drew the attention of U.S. designer Josh Divine because of its similarities with his own work.

Shimizu had said the city would stick with Sano’s logo, but apparently changed his position after a majority of citizens surveyed on the issue opposed using it.

“We cannot ignore citizens’ opinions,” Shimizu said.

A new logo will be selected after consulting with municipal staff.

A lawyer of a design office who contracted Sano for Ota’s museum project had told the city that using Sano’s logo should not cause any problems.

The design features circled dots and straight lines spelling BITO in roman letters.

The “BI” part was taken from the first two letters of bijutsukan, meaning museum in Japanese, while the “TO” part was taken from toshokan, for library, according to information on the city’s website.

Divine used circled dots and lines in his “Dot” logo released in 2011.

In August, amid plagiarism allegations over Sano’s Olympic logo leveled by Belgian designer Olivier Debie, who claimed it bore similarities to his logo for the Theatre de Liege in Liege, Belgium, the U.S. designer said Sano’s creation for Ota’s museum “may be derivative of my work,” citing similarities in style, proportion, color and shape.

Sano’s Olympic logo was scrapped on Sept. 1 by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee at his request, although he denied plagiarism.

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