National

Japan's open Olympic logo selection process wins disapproval from designers

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Professional designers are sneering at the four short-listed logos for the 2020 Olympics, saying soliciting proposals from the public resulted in designs of low artistic quality.

The designs were chosen from almost 15,000 submitted in an open competition after a logo by Kenjiro Sano was pulled in September amid accusations of plagiarism.

The Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee is now accepting votes in favor of one of the four designs online or on a postcard until Sunday. The team will then submit its selection to the Tokyo 2020 board on April 25.

An online survey by The Japan Times found that readers favor Design B, closely followed by Design D. The two others lagged far behind in the poll, conducted over several days to Wednesday.

Asking ordinary people for their ideas rankles with some professionals.

“Public submission seems more fair than a designer or agency picked by an elite, but the overall result will probably lack quality,” said Benjamin Thomas of Tokyo-based design studio Bento Graphics. Thomas added, the four short-listed proposals fail to “immediately visually explain their concept.”

Tokyo-based designer Ian Lynam of Ian Lynam Design said the four pairs of logos are “unprofessional in terms of structure, form and execution. They are more akin to cartoons or caricatures of logos than actual logos.” He said the committee should have hired a design studio.

The participants in the earlier round, too, have expressed disappointment with the outcome.

On Saturday, designer Keiko Hirano, one of the judges for the previous selection, blogged: “It seemed that the whole presentation was clearly planned with ‘Plan A’ in mind.”

She said considering its color, form, motif and concept, design candidate A — an indigo-and-white checkered circle — stands apart from the rest.

“We must not fail to recognize that once again, the renewed competition will not be a reflection of the consensus of the Japanese people,” she wrote.

Art director and chairman of Japan Graphic Designers Association Katsumi Asaba, also a previous judge, told daily newspaper Sports Hochi on Monday that all four candidates “are of a really low level of design.” He said he preferred Sano’s spiked logo to the four new ones.

Writing on Twitter on Friday, artist Yoshitomo Nara called the four designs “as compact as a capsule hotel. There’s none of the dynamism or sharpness that existed in the (1964) Tokyo Olympics.”

Other social media users have been busy searching for similarities to existing logos.

Many Twitter users noted that design B resembles the logo of Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox web browser.

Rock singer Temma Matsunaga of the band Urbangarde said all four designs resemble villains in popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The online poll conducted by The Japan Times found that readers favor design B, closely followed by design D.

In the tally of 1002 votes cast by 4 p.m. Wednesday, design B won 42.9 percent of the vote and D garnered 42.2 percent. Design A lagged with 8.1 percent, and C came last with 6.8 percent.


The following is a sample of comments received from Japan Times readers:

  • D is more Japan style, Similar to the sakura and Rising Sun — Anthony Watters New Zealand
  • All very nice. D is the most pleasing in my opinion. Clean, modern, conservative, has a beautiful Japanese look…I look forward to Japan hosting the Olympic games and I will be purchasing Olympic merchandise. — Selma Koga, United States
  • A is too plain, B looks like a cartoon man being flattened by a wheel, C is too dull (as the gold is too brown), but D is beautiful, vibrant, and floral. The sun comes out of a bloom, which is a nice representation of the cooperation of the games. — Anonymous, United States
  • B is a lovely, clean design. D is reminiscent of Japanese craft and my second choice. A and C are too busy. — Martha Uchino, United States
  • D represents sun and flower in my point of view. Japan is the country of the sun (Nearest to the east). Flower has the meaning of beautiful, future and hope. — Hazuki Chan, Malaysia
  • Very impressive graphics. I particularly like D to a Morning Glory Bloom with a sun in the middle (as in the rising sun of Japan). — Michael Suchocki, Canada
  • I am not for A & B. For C it has the feel of a human element and a representation of the various in the Olympics event but it does not catch the attention as well as D. While D seems less related to the event, it captures one’s attention and has a very vibrant feel. I still prefer the 5 rings of the Olympics logo. — Jenaline Low, Singapore
  • A looks very Japanese. D looks like what the rest of the world would think of as Japanese. B and C don’t say Japan to me. It could be any country. — Renee Beaulieu, United States
  • I like B the most because they incorporate all colours from the Olympic rings in their designs.
    And their designs are also the sleekest looking! — Shahreezatul Saharuddin, Malaysia
  • I chose B because Japan’s flag is red and white, and the red circle outline represents Japan while the rest of the colors unite with it, and the little gold figure could either represent Japan’s people, the olympians, or the general public. — Alejandra Flores, United States
  • I like to see all 5 original Olympics colors incorporated into design. I would have chosen D because the morning glory is a beautiful flower but it did not utilize all the colors. C was interesting. I did not like A at all. Congratulations to all artists. — Mikey, United States
  • “A” got a unique idea on it that the longer you look at it the addicting it can be. “C” just got to many things going in it. “D” looks pretty but didn’t give a lasting impression. “B” is just gorgeously simple and I love how the color flows. — Zi Bautista, Philippines
  • Logo D has a style that visually plays on traditional, iconic Japanese themes. It feels more uniquely Japan than the others.— Jacklyn Kohon, United States
  • All are outstanding but D leaves a stronger impression. The designs remind me of Japanese cultural items and traditional motifs such as fan, bells, colored sweets and hanabi. They give a stronger Japanese identity at one glance. — Yi Xiu Lin, Singapore
  • Ichimatsu moyou is a very Japanese traditional symbol for Japanese people. So A is the best. — Mariko Shimada, Japan
  • The blue hue is eye catching. It needs a hint of color from choice B. Also, the inner glow effect on choice B is amazing. — Reginald LeSane, United States
  • These are all really beautiful, however, A and D are my favourites because both of them have something about them that feels very Japanese. A reminds me of a Yukata pattern/those round handheld fans in the summer. I like the clean simplicity of it. D reminds me of the sun, Japan’s national flower and fireworks – all at the same time. Plus the colours are very stunning. — Kim L., Germany
  • A seems traditional, simple, as Japanese as a kimono pattern – my second choice (sometimes my first); B seems less Japanese – too similar to other Asian cultures — Chinese or Malaysian maybe?; C is too cosmopolitan – could be from anywhere, the modernized athlete figure is cliche; D is lovely, unique, colorful with a beautiful Japanese flower design… A or D definitely… — Tim Bozarth, United States

 

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