Beijing National Stadium at night; Beijing National Stadium at night;

The look and feel of great sport

As the dust settles on the feats of the world’s greatest sportspeople in the most impressive of sports venues, it’s worth appreciating that the Olympic Games is as much a celebration of design as it is sport.

Every element of the games is designed: the stadiums, the torch, the cauldron, the ceremonies, the outfits, the merchandise, the dais, the medals, even the lanyards. All of these must form part of the story of the games for that particular city. The Olympic Games is unique in its prohibition of advertising signage throughout its sports venues. The only brands that are noticeable across its precincts are the Olympic rings and The Games brand for the host city, like Rio 2016.

This emphasis on the extensive and high quality graphic design that features right across almost every part of event delivery is known as The Games 'look and feel'.

The 'look and feel' of the Games is the overarching design strategy for all those non-descript surfaces that feature in audiences’ line of sight. Most importantly the 'look and feel' should capture and reflect the atmospherics and brand of that particular event city. It should enhance the Games experience.

It is most prominent as the backdrop to the events in each venue. It’s also used as bunting to the temporary fence and hording outside the stadium. The temporary event overlay often features on portable buildings and security fencing. Never ending lengths of fabric provide the Games look and assists in giving the back of house elements a front of house feel.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

It also enhances the visuals to the audience of the broadcast experience. Even some of the smallest surface locations provides this 'look and feel' branding opportunity; like the end of the Gymnastics beam or the edge of the high jump bar. These surfaces can feature more prominently when the action is filmed close up and in slow motion. The games lanyard also provides the same opportunity; when the camera zooms in on the gold medal within frame is the games brand, the 'look and the feel'. It provides the event city with promotional advertising that is consumed subliminally by the viewer.

London 2012

Featured more traditional colours, predominately purples and reds, and more contemporary triangles and diagonals. A different and more contemporary look that referenced the triangular structural lines of the London Eye, The Gherkin and the Olympic stadium itself.

Rio 2016

A series of arcs of green acknowledging Rio's vegetation, Sugarloaf Mountain, the blue of the ocean, and the yellow sand of its famous beaches - with a touch of Rio carnival.

Athens 2004

Heavily referenced the blues and whites of the Greek flag, and the Mediterranean Sea and its traditional white rendered buildings.

Sydney 2000

Unsurprisingly utilised emerald blue-green and arched lines referencing the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Stadium Australia.

Beijing 2008

Was predominately red, referencing the red ribbons that bind traditional scripts and parchments, with a similarity to the 'Birds Nest' Stadium and alluding to the continuous flow of Calligraphy.

The ability to tie together the look and feel of the games is not just isolated to Olympic Games, it’s a strategic way of thinking. It allows sporting precincts for any major event to provide a more cohesive front of house presentation and enhanced spectator experience. ”

Justin Madden Justin Madden Cities Consultant

It delivers a narrative greater than the sum of its parts. Drawing together venues, event, people and culture. It can convey atmospherics that even the best postcard shots cannot deliver. It brands an event city and delivers a pitch in a way that compels audiences from around the world to visit and do business in preference to the other great competitive cities across the globe.

This thought is a driver for the master plan at the Melbourne and Olympic Park Sports precinct currently being undertaken. We need to draw together a series of standalone facilities into a legible and cohesive narrative that enhances the spectator experience and showcases a 'look and feel' that celebrates Melbourne - and its reputation as the world’s most liveable city.