Designing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The Olympics are finally here! After being delayed for the first time since World War II, many are excited to finally see the return of the biggest sporting event in the world. With 17 million viewers having watched the Opening Ceremonies, there’s a huge audience of fans tuning in. Such a massive global audience brings a lot of responsibility for the design aspect of the event to deliver—and I definitely believe it has. The Olympics have done a great job this year creating design systems that are simple, clever, and accessible. Here are some of my favorite finds!

Tokyo 2020 Logo

For starters, let’s talk about the Tokyo 2020 logo itself. The first thing I noticed was the typeface. It’s clean and sleek and looked super familiar. After thinking about it for a minute, I realized that the “T” and “Y” closely resembled the letterforms in the Taylor Design logo. A quick google search confirmed my suspicions—both logos seem to be using the DIN typeface! Pretty cool coincidence.

The logomark itself is also very neat. At first glance, it seems to be symmetrical, but a closer look will show that it’s actually not at all. I did some research to find out the intent behind this mark and this is what I found:

Chequered patterns have been popular in countries around the world throughout history. In Japan, the chequered pattern was known as “ichimatsu moyo” in the Edo period (1603-1867), and this chequered design in the traditional Japanese colour of indigo blue expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan.

Composed of three varieties of rectangular shapes, the design represents different countries, cultures, and ways of thinking. It incorporates the message of “Unity in Diversity.” It also expresses the fact that the Olympic and Paralympic Games seek to promote diversity as a platform to connect the world.”

I’m really impressed with the amount of thought that went into the mark in how it incorporates Japanese history while also promoting a message of diversity and inclusion.

Olympic Discipline Pictograms

The next design system I’ve been drawn to is the pictogram system illustrating all of the sports that take place at the Olympics. There’s nothing better than seeing a design system executed simply and successfully. These pictograms do just that. The figures in each pictogram are created through a circle for the head, tapered limbs, and my favorite part, the use of negative space to depict the torso. These are great examples of how minimal, expressive design can display complex ideas simply and create a flexible system while doing so. A few of my favorite icons are the swimmer, the cyclist, and the tennis player.

It doesn’t stop here though. There was actually a live performance of all 50 Olympic disciplines being embodied by real people during the opening ceremonies. It was a true feat of camera work and creative performance. Definitely, a must-watch!

I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the Games and seeing what other designs the Olympics has to offer!

Taylor Design Blog