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Exploring the Symbolism and Design of the 2024 Paris Olympic Medals: How Does the Olympic Logo Impact the Overall Design?

The 2024 Paris Olympics are here! MAIS OUI!

The city of fashion and chic!

Surely the medals have to live up to the pomp and hype. And they do. Designed by one of France's oldest premier jeweler CHAUMET, they look beautiful. Below is an excerpt of the press release by LVMH a couple of days ago.

"In close collaboration with the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, headed by Tony Estanguet, Chaumet creative teams proposed a side specific to Paris that pays tribute to France and the City of Light while echoing the creative codes of the Maison.

The hexagon, a visual emblem symbolizing France, is also a cherished figure for Chaumet. Reprised from the Maison’s style vocabulary, the eight -sided symbol which also represents France is amplified by a series of rays that evoke the radiance of the nation as it hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, as well as that of the athletes whose performances will thrill the world, along with the radiance of exceptional savoir-faire. This radiance is heightened by the faceting on the medals, designed to reflect light and evoke the French capital’s much-loved nickname, the City of Light. At the same time, it imparts a special brilliance to the athletes who will wear the medals around their necks. These rays engraved in the metal breathe dynamism and life into this exceptional object.

The materials chosen for the medals are highly symbolic as well. Made of gold, silver or bronze, these are above all medals from Paris. Paris 2024 and its Athletes Commission, headed by Martin Fourcade, felt that the medal-winning champions should have a little piece of France close to their heart. The center of each medal has thus been cut from an authentic piece of iron from the Eiffel Tower, preserved during the renovation of the monument.

Chaumet has innovated by crafting this center in a hexagon shape and setting it inside the medal with a technique known as “griffe setting”, which the Maison employs for the precious gemstones in its high jewelry pieces. This setting evokes the ‘Clous de Paris’ hobnail motif found in fine jewelry, as well as the pattern of rivets on the Eiffel Tower itself."

BUT. Here is where I have a slight issue with all of it. That PARIS 2024 logo. Olympic logos always create great controversy among the design community. They are always polarizing. To put everything in context, I am showing some of my favorites and some of my least favorites. My favorites are the ones designed for Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968, Munich 1972, Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984.

Of recent years Olympiads, the ones I feel some faux pas were Barcelona 1992, Sidney 2000, Athens 2004, Rio 2016 and Paris 2024.

One point to note, is the way each logo was designed and developed. My favorites shown previously were hand drawn with no computers inspired by elements intelligently conveying the culture of each host nation. If you look at the latter, also known as the "uglier" of the bunch, they are devoid of elegant cultural references and read more like clip art found on early 2000s cheap websites.

Going back to the medals.

You see, the medals are a huge part of the Olympics. Arguably the raison d'être of it all. So when one designs a brand identity for the biggest sporting event in the world, one must take into consideration how the logo will look on the medals themselves. Have a look at the official Paris medals below. I am sure in real life the "rays" will evoke radiance and beauty exemplifying the City of Light and the craftsmanship that went into them. But look even closer at the logo within the hexagon. They read like the medals were sponsored by the French National Gas Company.

The logo looks so generic, scaled too small, and so lazy in its execution that it dilutes the rest of the design by CHAUMET. At least they could have put a little more effort in the actual design within the hexagon. One option would have been just a flame, embossed.larger and with a more balanced typography underneath the mark. It is these small details that make a decent design better, and a good design great. I understand there are manufacturing / stamping restrictions, however on the world's biggest stage, should there be?

So, if you are developing a new brand identity for your company, pay close attention to the process and make sure you communicate with your designer what is most important for you and your product. One good thing about the PARIS 2024 logo is that the flame symbol is simple enough to scale and render in many applications - think apps, websites, avatars, uniforms, way finding, signage, drink cups etc. But as you can see in the beautifully designed Olympic logos, there is simple good and simple bad. Too bad Paris 2024 is in the latter.

-Christos Joannides



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