The Olympic Design in Beijing
April 2 , 2020 By Yicheng Wu
The history of the Olympic rings dates back to 1912. The founder of the current version of the Olympic Games is Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The rings show five interlocking rings, coloured blue, yellow, black, green and red on a white field, representing ” Olympic rings”. Each ring represents one continent: Europe, Africa, The Americas, Asia and Oceania. The International Olympic Committee claims that this emblem symbolizes that every country is welcome to join. International participation is as important as winning the game.
The Chinese illustrator and graphic designer MeiLin Han took the elements of the five Olympic rings to design other possible symbols for the official mascots of the Olympic Games known as ” Fuwa” in Beijing, China in 2008.
“Fuwa”, literally means “good-luck dolls” are five mascots. Five dolls represent the natural symbolism of the Ocean, forest, fire, land and sky. In the actual Fengshui elements, it can represent water, wood, fire, earth, and sky. MeiLin Han used the style of traditional Chinese folk art to decorate it as well as the symbolism of five continents for the designs of the Olympic rings. Each name is Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini. Together, the names form the sentence ” Beijing Huan Ying Ni”, which means “Beijing welcomes you”.
The following introduction is about the individual characteristics and symbols behind each mascot design:
Beibei is a friendly leader of a female doll. The inspiration for this design originated from the traditional Chinese new year decorative picture of lotus and fish symbolizing prosperity; fish design comes from Neolithic artifacts. Its colour is blue, representing the water and the sea. The represented sports are aquatic sports.
Jingjing is an honest and optimistic male doll. The doll is a panda as an endangered animal and a national symbol of China and an international symbol of environmentalism. Its colour is black, representing the forest. The symbolism emphasizes the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature. The represented sports are weightlifting and Judo.
Huanhuan is an extrovert and enthusiastic male doll. Its colour is red, representing fire, the passion for sports and the Olympic spirit of ” faster, higher, stronger and the passion” of the Beijing Olympics. Huan huan’s headgear comes from a fire design in the Mogao Caves, the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes. The represented sports are ball sports/racquet sports.
Yingying is an independent male doll. The doll represents Tibetan antelope which is also an endangered species as well as the panda. its colour is orange, symbolizing Earth and health. Yingying’s headgear incorporates elements of Tibetan and Xinjiang ethnic costumes from China. The represented sports are track and field.
Nini is a kind and easygoing female doll. Its colour is green which represents spring. The swallow is a messenger of spring and happiness in Chinese culture and is seen as a symbol of good fortune. Nini’s headgear uses the design of Beijing’s sand martin kites, which are colourful cross-shaped kites modelled after swallows.
Different designers from different nations have their unique expression to present the Olympic game design whatever its design is mascots or logos or other emblems, all different design reflects its cultural identity and the national pride behind each Olympic emblem design.
For example, the logo design of the Japanese Olympic game in 2020, the Japanese designer Kenjiro Sano designs the logo based on the characteristic features of the red circle from the Japanese flag. Sano applies chequered patterns with the use of traditional Japanese indigo blue to decorate the circle, which expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan. The logo is composed of three varieties of rectangular shapes that represent different countries and cultures and ways of thinking. These different rectangular shapes represent diversity. The logo design incorporates the message of ” Unity in Diversity” It means that the Olympic and Paralympic Games seek to promote diversity as a platform to connect the world. The current version of the Olympics logo utilizes a simple serif typeface, all the letters are capitals.
Canada also has its representative design of the Canadian Olympic logo. The Canadian Olympic Committee( COC) designs an Olympic logo, which is a red maple leave as its centrepiece, sitting above the Olympic rings encircled the red oval border. This design looks both classic and contemporary at the same time. The maple leave has been a recognizable and important symbol for Canada for over 300 years. It has been used to symbolize Canada, the land and its people. It also symbolizes the Canadian team in the Olympic game. The Canadian Olympic Committee Chief Operating and Chief marketing officer Christopher Overholt said:” We are very pleased with the new brand logo. It is simple, clean, and drives attention to the team where it belongs. The maple leaf is what connects all Canadians. We hope Canadians see this new logo as a badge of honour and another way to show support for the team.”
By looking at Olympic emblem designs from different countries, we can see that each nation has its representative and unique styles to cooperate with the elements of cultural identity and the spirit of national pride behind each Olympic emblem design. As artists and designers, it can be important for them to combine this idea in their design to evoke the feeling of patriotic sentiment. These patriotic designs can also be introduced in any textbook as a tool for the purpose of patriotism education.